MASON CITY, Iowa - It's a startling statistic: on average, every 40 seconds, someone in the world dies by suicide.
In Iowa, it's the second leading cause of death for those ages 15-34.
And in North Iowa, there is one event that aims to prevent and bring awareness to suicide: the 3rd annual Ride to Fight Suicide, which got underway Saturday. Riders started at LD's Filling Station in Mason City and rode to different locations like Northwood, Stacyville, Lime Springs, Alta Vista and Marble Rock before returning back to Mason City.
For Leon Christianson, suicide is something personal to him. Nine years ago, his brother took his own life.
"I miss him every day. It's a tough, tough thing to go through."
Since that time, he's been networking with others that have been through similar situations.
"If I think of someone or see someone that is down on their luck or depressed, I will talk to them about suicide. I'll ask them if they're a threat to themselves. I'm not going to bed at night knowing I could've maybe made a difference in someone's life."
Charlie West is a retired Marine, having served from 1984-1992. He notes of the high rate of suicides within the armed forces community, mainly due to trying to adjust to and get back into society.
"A lot of them turn to alcohol or some other addiction to deal with it, and the suicide rate is very high for them."
If anyone needs them, West says there are many resources out there.
"Part of the Marine Corps League reaches out to them too. To partner with them, to create the Friends Forever organization, where you go out and have coffee with them, have breakfast with them. Help them get back into society."
If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. In addition, a suicide support group that meets every third Thursday at the First Baptist Church in Mason City. All are welcome. There will also be a walk to fight suicide, the 'Out of the Darkness Walk', on October 5th.
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