August 2, 2002
This letter from the Valentine family is shared with readers of the Almanac:
On June 18, 2002, we lost our son, our brother when a very special young man, Michael Valentine, took his life.
Why he made the choice to end his life so tragically we'll never understand. What we do know is we have to prevent this from happening to another wonderful person, to another family, to another community.
SUICIDE IS THE THIRD leading cause of death among those 15-24 years old and the sixth leading cause of death among those 5-14 years old.
Untreated, depression is the number one cause of suicide. Of the millions who suffer from depression, only 30 percent seek help. Every year, about 30,000 Americans die from suicide making it the 11th leading cause of death among adults. Every 18 minutes another life is lost to suicide.
More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease combined.
We can change that.
On August 17, we will have a chance to make a difference as we walk the first-ever Out of the Darkness walk.
Walkers will take a symbolic 26-mile journey from sunset to sunrise, through the darkness and into the light.
It's a huge, visible statement that the secrecy surrounding suicide is over. The money raise will benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention — the only national not-for-profit organization dedicated to funding suicide prevention research, education, and awareness programs.