The causes of suicide are multiple and complex. Suicide is not selective, it affects people of all ages, is not gender-specific, (although men are more likely than women to do it) and crosses all ethnicities and income levels.

People who could be susceptible to suicide include people suffering from depression, chronic pain, and certain medical conditions. Substance abuse issues, family violence, (including physical and sexual abuse) and a family history of suicide are also considered to be risk factors.

The trail of anguish and sorrow suicide leaves behind is painful and at times impossible to navigate. People without empathy may hurl insults like, "what a gutless thing to do, how could they do that to their family, their friends, unbelievable!".

Most people who kill themselves don't do it to hurt others, to vex their families, or to prove a point. They do it to end their own pain, plain and simple. This was something I never understood when I was younger, until I had to.

To say that our family life was dysfunctional, is an understatement of epic proportions. Without going into details, I will say that my sisters and I have all dealt with mental health issues, which is ironic, because our dad was a psychiatrist, and a good one. Unfortunately, his family was not a beneficiary of that aspect of his life.

My younger sister, when she hit her teens (already a roller-coaster time of life) dealt with the abundance of emotional trauma, by attempting suicide, a number of times. Again, at that time, I simply could not understand it.

My perspective changed the first time I myself stood on the precipice of despair, called there by a siren song promising relief from a black melancholy which filled my mind. I'm not sure why, but I stepped back and sought help.

The Step Forward to Prevent Suicide Walk & 5K is coming up on Saturday, June 17, 2017 at Falls Park. Registration begins at 8:30 AM and the walk & 5K starts at 9:00 AM. There is no fee to participate, but donations will be accepted and all proceeds support local suicide prevention and survivor services.

For more information or to register prior to the walk, go to helplinecenter.org or call the Helpline Center at 211.

Too many lives are lost to suicide every year, (1.6 million). If you or someone you know is talking about or contemplating suicide, please, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.

Sources: Helpline Center, National Institute of Mental Health, Mental Health America, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention