MALONE — Stigma often leads to silence when the issue is suicide.
That, Paula Sansone says, is not the answer.
“The escalated number of attempts and completed suicides recently is very alarming,” she said. “I lost my daughter on May 1, and as hard as it has been to deal with the pain, I understand the urgency and importance needed to raise awareness within our area.”
Sansone is chairing Malone’s first-ever Out of the Darkness Community Walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, set for Tuesday.
“We need to educate as many people as we can.”
Her daughter, Jackalyn Marie Boyer, attended Lake Placid Central School from 2007 through 2011 and then moved to Malone this past school year. She also had many friends in the Saranac Lake School District, Sansone said.
“She had an infectious smile and personality,” she said. “She was always singing in the hallways and (singing) happy birthday to her friends. Very few of them knew she was struggling with major depression that included extreme highs followed by extreme lows.
“Recognizing and understanding the signs of depression can help reduce the stigma associated with this mental illness and potentially open the doors for those struggling to speak out for help,” she added.
More than 36,000 people complete suicide every year, of which 90 percent had a diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness at the time of their death, the foundation says. In fact, suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens and young adults and the second leading cause of death for college students.
An estimated 1 million Americans attempt suicide annually. New York state ranks fourth in the nation among 10- through 24-year-olds. One in 10 New York state 10th-graders will attempt suicide this year.
Out of the Darkness has worked hard to reduce those numbers. In 2011, more than 90,000 walkers across the United States took steps to help save lives by taking part in one of the 240 community walks, including one in Lake Placid. Participants raised more than $6.5 million to support a better understanding of suicide and its prevention through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.