Suicide prevention advocates rally for change in Michigan
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Suicide prevention advocates from across the state of Michigan gathered in Heritage Hall Thursday in hopes of inspiring legislative change.
Representatives from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) spent the day meeting with lawmakers, connecting with high school students, and sharing with each other the many ways suicide has impacted their lives.
Suicide remains a leading cause of death for Americans. According to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 45,000 people died by suicide in the United States in 2020.
AFSP Volunteer Tay Ford was chosen to facilitate a discussion panel at the event. Ford works to raise awareness for suicide prevention and mental health in Metro Detroit and beyond.
In addition to her advocacy, Ford is a mental health therapist and a survivor of attempted suicide. She said her peers who suffer need to know they’re not alone.
“Your voice; that feeling that you feel inside of you that sometimes feels as though, I may be a burden,” she said. “That feeling that nobody understands me, or nobody hears me - there’s somebody that cares.”
Thirteen-year-old Lily Mix has already been advocating for suicide prevention for two years. She lost her uncle to suicide in 2018 and lost her father in the same way in 2020. She said one of the only ways to prevent suicide is to keep talking about it and connect people with the necessary resources.
“It’s just better for people to know about it so that hopefully, they don’t go through something like that,” she said.
Students from Howell High School were also in attendance to speak with lawmakers about the mental health struggles their generation currently faces.
Sophomore Kaylyn Clemens said her peers often feel the need to keep their feelings inside, but like Mix, she believes the best way to prevent suicide is to keep educating.
“It’s just really important that people know that mental illness is a thing,” she said. “And it needs to be something that we’re all working towards fixing.”
Those struggling with feelings of distress or suicidal thoughts can contact the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling 988 to be connected immediately with a mental health professional.
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