Goal is to Reduce Suicides

Bill Hawley, chairman of the Wyoming AFSP chapter, speaks during opening ceremonies at Saturday's Out of the Darkness Walk. (Photo by Pat Blair)
Bill Hawley, chairman of the Wyoming AFSP chapter, speaks during opening ceremonies at Saturday's Out of the Darkness Walk. (Photo by Pat Blair)

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention wants to reduce the annual suicide rate in the United States by 20 percent by the year 2025.

As Sheridan Media reported earlier, the organization's Wyoming chapter held the sixth annual Out of the Darkness Walk in Sheridan this past weekend. Also, as Sheridan Media reported earlier, Wyoming ranks among the top states in the nation in numbers of suicides.

That's according to Bill Hawley, who's the chairman of the Wyoming chapter of the AFSP.

Hawley said in 2015, 157 people in Wyoming died through suicide. He said the AFSP is the largest private funder of suicide prevention research in the country, and a big piece of that research is the question of why.

Hawley said the other side of suicide prevention is mental health issues.

Hawley said some of the reasons that suicide rates are so high in Wyoming and Alaska may be the wide open spaces and the cowboy-up mentality which, he said, is good when it creates resiliency but a problem when it creates barriers to seeking help.

He said another big piece of the problem in Wyoming is substance abuse, especially alcohol abuse. Also, he said, there's the access to lethal means. He said 70 percent of suicides in Wyoming and other mountain states are done by firearms.

He said the AFSP isn't about taking away guns, but when a friend is struggling, steps can be taken such as locking up guns, storing ammunition away from a gun or temporarily removing a gun from the person's possession.

View another photo below.

Cal Furnish, left, vice chair of the Wyoming AFSP chapter, and Hawley. (Photo by Pat Blair)
Cal Furnish, left, vice chair of the Wyoming AFSP chapter, and Hawley. (Photo by Pat Blair)
SheridanWyoming.com

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