ODESSA, Texas (Nexstar) – September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, and one local woman is hoping to bring awareness to this heavy subject.
On October 10, 2011, Amanda Provence’s world changed forever. Nearly ten years ago, Provence lost her brother to suicide. Now, she is using her grief to help others who are struggling.
“For me, helping others is what helps me heal. I lost him on a Saturday, and by Friday, I was calling schools trying to see how I could help,” Provence said.
Provence now serves as the chairperson for the Out of the Darkness Walk. The walk serves as the primary fundraiser for the local chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Anyone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts, those who have lost someone to suicide, those who have survived a suicide attempt; all are invited to walk for the cause.
This year’s walk will take place October 10. You can sign up to participate here.
In the weeks leading up to the Out of Darkness Walk, Provence is doing all she can to get the word out about resources and help available for those struggling. And she has some advice for anyone who will listen.
“Be open. A lot of people feel like if you talk about suicide it’s going to put it in their minds, but it doesn’t,” she said. “Asking someone outright, ‘are you thinking about harming yourself’, is ok. And it needs to be done because they might not feel comfortable bringing the topic up, they might feel like you don’t want to help. But letting them know that you do care and letting them know that you are willing to help without judging them for their thoughts is huge.”
According to Provence, the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 24 is suicide.
“Obviously, we need to be talking about it with our kids. The way that I talk about it with my 12-year-old won’t be the same way I talk about it with my 15-year-old because they have different levels of maturity,” Provence said. “But talking, no matter the age, is key.”
Aside from open conversation, Provence says everyone needs to have a better understanding of mental health.
“You can’t tell them, ‘oh, you’ll get over it, you need to sleep more, you need to pray about it’,” Provence said.
Sometimes, the answer just isn’t that simple. 90% of people who end their life have a treatable mental illness.
“There are medications and mental health IS health. Understand a person may need help from a doctor…a counselor. And they need a family support system,” Provence added. “Until you talk to that person one on one with an open mind, you’re not going to know what’s going to help.”
For those in need of help, with suicidal thoughts, or even support after losing someone to suicide, Provence says help is always available.
“One of the biggest and easily reached resources in the Life Line.”
That number, 1-800-273-TALK, is manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year by mental health professionals. For those uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can text the word HOME to 741741.
“The best thing to put between someone who is suicidal and them ending their life is time,” Provence said. “If they have time to just take a breath and recalculate the situation, then they can get to a better place.”
Provence said if you are sharing a space with someone threatening self-harm, there are actions you can take to help give them the space they may need to make a different choice.
“If they are in immediate danger, do not leave them alone, make sure they are in a safe place. Remove any methods of harm…medications, weapons, knives,” Provence advised.
Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day, Provence shared a bit of good news.
“Last year, in 2020, initial reports show the suicide rate did drop by 5%,” she said.
Now, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is hoping to see that rate drop by 20% by 2025. For more information on this goal, take a look at their website.