SMITHVILLE — More than 800,000 individuals die by suicide in the United States every year, Behavior Health Director for St. Luke’s North Hospital Deb Wriedt said during a leadership lunch at the St. Luke’s Smithville location Friday, Aug. 23. In 2017, 1,100 people died by suicide in Missouri.

“More people die by suicide than motor vehicle accidents, overdoses or homicides,” she said. “When you think about that, that is pretty impactful. You think about motor vehicle accidents happening all the time.”

St. Luke’s Hospital is aiming to bring awareness to the issue of suicide and help prevent them by sponsoring its first annual Suicide Prevention Week from Sunday to Saturday, Sept. 8 to 14. The theme is “Celebrate Life.”

“Too often, people aren’t aware of the prevalence of suicide, aren’t educated about the signs and symptoms and don’t know how to talk to people about suicide,” a St. Luke’s press release states. “This year, Smithville is coming together as a community to provide education and activities that will raise awareness and decrease the stigma around the issue.”

Wriedt said for people age 15 to 34, suicide is the second leading cause of death. In that age group, the highest suicide rate falls to those aged 18 to 24. It is the fourth leading cause in those age 35 to 55, and in Missouri, it is also the third leading cause of death for 10- to 14-year-olds. It also is the 10th leading cause of death in Missouri overall.

Wriedt said men are twice as likely to die by suicide than women, but women attempt suicide more than men.

“It’s not going away, it is just getting worse,” she said.

St. Luke’s wants to help teach the community how to recognize high trigger statements, Wriedt said, in addition to making people feel safe talking about suicide. With that in mind, the prevention week will be packed with activities each day beginning with the Suicide Awareness Survivor Support Remembrance Walk at 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 8, in Loose Park, located in Kansas City.

In addition to events in Kansas City, a week’s worth of activities are also planned in Smithville. The following is a listing of events by date.

Sunday, Sept. 8

At 6 p.m., a community worship service will take place in Courtyard Park, located at the corner of Bridge and Main streets in downtown.

Monday, Sept. 9

At 6 p.m., a presentation entitled “Moms Breaking the Silence,” will be given by mothers who have been affected by suicide. The event will take place in the Smithville High School Performing Arts Center, 645 S. Commercial Ave.

Tuesday, Sept. 10

Beginning at 8:30 a.m. St. Luke’s therapists and mental health professionals will host a panel discussion about mental health and compassion fatigue at City Hall, 107 W. Main St.

At 3:30 p.m. a compassion fatigue discussion will be lead by Josh Krasovec from The Battle Within. The discussion focuses on first responders and will be at Smithville Area Fire Protection District Station No. 2, located at 341 Park Drive.

Wednesday, Sept. 11

During the Smithville Area Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon at 11:30 a.m. at Smithville United Methodist Church, located at 505 U.S. Highway 169, Alderman Jeff Bloemker will give a presentation on how he coped after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

At 6 p.m., Steven Arkin will present “Perception of a Suicide Survivor” in the high school Performing Arts Center.

Friday, Sept. 13

There will be a presentation about how to talk about suicide utilizing the Question, Persuade and Refer method followed by a question and answer session from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center.

Saturday, Sept. 14

On the last day, at 7 p.m. there will be a candlelit remembrance walk through downtown to Heritage Park, located off Main Street, remembering those who have been lost to suicide. Following will be a screening of “Inside Out” at 9 p.m. in Courtyard Park.

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