Statewide walk for suicide prevention takes place in Pierre

PIERRE, S.D. (DRG News) – A few dozen people gathered in person at the Capital Lake Visitor’s Center in Pierre last Saturday — while many more joined online– for the 9th annual statewide Walk of Hope Coming Together for Suicide Prevention event.

Event Coordinator Julie Moore with the Avera St. Mary’s Foundation says anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States.

Pastor Craig Wexler with Lutheran Memorial Church in Pierre says coping with the COVID-19 pandemic for the past six months has taken a toll on most people– even those who may not have struggled with anxiety or depression before.

Keynote speaker and counselor Kevin Polky from Wisconsin says developing resiliency is one tool people can use to cope with mental health issues.

Earlier this month, the South Dakota Departments of Social Services and Health launched the “Change my mind” youth suicide prevention campaign through the BeThe1SD website.

Also this month, the state Department of Social Services received a $1.2 million federal grant intended to help prevent suicide in the 25 and older age group. The funds are estimated to help more than 68,000 South Dakotans in the fight against adult suicide over the next three years.