Community Walks to Bring Awareness to Suicide

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- Suicide is the second leading cause of death in adults in South Dakota and earlier today the community walked to bring awareness and remember their loved ones.

“Coming to a walk like this; helps us know that we are not alone,” says Dave Vanderlinde, who lost his daughter.

It’s not been an easy journey for Dave and his wife Char Vanderlinde after they lost their daughter to suicide in 2015.

“It slowly gets better, maybe, it just gets different. You know, you are just never the same again,” says Char Vanderlinde.

And things haven’t been the same for the couple, but they have found comfort in the people they have met through the Helpline Centers: Step Forward to Prevent Suicide walk.

“We feel understood, especially the people that have lost their children. We feel like they understand, how we feel, totally and it’s okay for us to talk about our loved one,” says Dave Vanderlinde

For three years now, the couple takes the step to come to the event, even when it’s not easy.

“Sometimes, I feel like I don’t want to do this because it’s kind of painful, but I muster up the courage to go ahead and do it,” says Dave Vanderlinde.

For others, the event has become their mission, to spread the word so others don’t go through the same thing.

“If people know that there’s help; then maybe they will reach out and ask for the help. If they don’t know, that there’s help, then I think they just suffer alone and they are maybe scared to say anything,” says Helpline Center’s Walk committee member Nancy Pavelko.

The topic of suicide isn’t easy, but it’s also something no one can prepare for.

“It was really hard and it took us by surprise cause with my dad we knew that he worried a lot, but it was something he was never treated for. We just never realized how bad it was,” says Pavelko.

In the end, organizers of the event say it all starts with speaking up so that one day the numbers can be reduced.

“Knowing that in some way, we will be able to help someone in the future. If we can do that for just one person, then all this is well worth it,” says Dave Vanderlinde.

The Helpline Center says their goal today was to raise around 40 thousand dollars to help with funding suicide awareness and prevention programs.

The event also had Minnesota Vikings Long Snapper Kevin McDermott, who shared the story of losing his aunt to suicide.

“It’s important for me to be out here to support my family members, who still live in Sioux Falls and to help those that are affected by suicide all over the South Dakota area,” says McDermott.

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