No judgment with the Watertown group on suicides | South Dakota News


By KELLY DRAGER, Watertown Public Opinion

WATERTOWN, SD (AP) – The Codington County area has seen six suicides so far this year. Four of them were people under the age of 20.

These numbers are alarming for Kelli Rumpza, youth coordinator for the NE Prevention Resource Center, and a growing concern for the mental health of young people in the community.

The Live in the Path of Hope 2019 event brought together up to 300 people. The 2020 event took place virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions.

In his work, Rumpza primarily tackles drug addiction among young people between the ages of 10 and 24. With the growing number of suicides among young people, the organization is also focusing on mental health.

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“We see a lot of coexistence with mental health and people using substances as a coping mechanism,” Rumpza said. “We are here to meet people where they are and help them make changes in their lives. Our job is not to judge but to be there and to guide them throughout their journey.

There has been an increase in anxiety and depression among young people, Rumpza said. To help the community fight this, the resource center is teaching individuals how to take care of themselves, Watertown Public Opinion reported.

“A big part is thinking about how you take care of yourself. What influences you and how do you perceive different things? ” she said.

Self-care is an important skill that people need, from the youngest child to the elderly. Being aware of yourself and taking care of yourself is an essential factor in preventing suicide.

“Sometimes they are in so much pain that they don’t know how to ask for help,” Rumpza said. “Specifically in the Midwest where we’re supposed to take care of ourselves and don’t want to disturb others. We have the mindset we need to pull ourselves together and make it our own. Most people can move on. But for people with suicidal ideation, they don’t know how to deal with it, and they can’t think beyond here, today.

Mental health issues are not the only factor in the treatment of suicide. Rumpza said it’s not always about depression and anxiety disorders, and suicidal thoughts can occur in people who are overwhelmed or with reduced autonomy.

“There are many types of losses: loss of income; loss of a family member, pets; a change in their community. It is something that they feel desperate and helpless for. These people are suffering so much. Pain that we can’t even understand. They feel like it’s the only way to get rid of this pain, ”she said.

The topic of suicide itself also plays a role in its prevention. A community that speaks openly provides an opportunity for those who are suffering to express where they are at with their thoughts and feelings.

“There is a lot of misunderstanding and stigma with suicide. We need to create a space where those who have lost someone to suicide feel comfortable talking about it. Suicide is something that makes people really uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s even difficult for me to talk about it, ”said Rumpza.

To help fight stigma and negativity, there is an active shift in how the act of ending one’s life is called.

“When you say ‘committing suicide’ you think it’s a crime, it’s negative. We focused on the language. Calling it “they died by suicide” or they “committed suicide”. It is not a criminal thing. It’s something they deal with. It’s something that happened to them, ”she said.

To help raise awareness and support the community, Glacial Lakes SAFE sponsors Live in the Path of Hope, an annual 5 kilometer walk, run and memorial service. The event is the first Wednesday of each September. September is Suicide Awareness Month.

This is the event’s seventh year, and it often revolves around campaigns to help encourage people to participate. Rumpza said that 5K and the event of remembrance is emotionally powerful and has helped many heal the pain of suicide.

“The reason we all come together is such a sad reason, but it’s so empowering and caring. It’s bringing everyone together and knowing that others have struggled too. You might be struggling or you might know someone who is struggling, but we want them to know that there are resources and caring people to help them thrive and get through the next day. . To let them know that we want them to continue. We want them to stay, ”she said.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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