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Local Couple On A Mission To Prevent Suicide After Losing Son

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TRI-CITIES, Wash.—Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States and an epidemic that has grown 30% in the past twenty years.

Action News heard from a local family that has been personally impacted, after their 17-year-old son took his life three and a half years ago.

The Smith couple says almost daily people reach out to them, after losing a loved one to suicide.

They say since their son's death, they've made it their mission to help people in hopes that more awareness will lead to fewer people taking their own lives.

Scott Smith says, "It is on the rise, especially among young people it seems to be exploding."

Suicide is the second leading cause of death here in Washington state and it’s a choice too many teens are choosing. Twelve young people have died by suicide in Benton and Franklin counties since the beginning of 2017.

Scott Smith says, "I think it's the new cancer almost, depression. A lot of times people think that's not going to happen to me or my family and that's often not the case."

Jake’s decision cemented a permanent reality for the Smiths and now...

Scott Smith says, "We are trying to help as many people as we can, I think that's what our son would want us to do."

Kathy Smith says, "We all need to look outside ourselves and show more compassion to whoever is hurting around us because we don't know who is hurting that badly."

Kathy says parents need to be able to have honest conversations with their kids.

Kathy Smith says, “They need to not be afraid to ask their kids point blank, do you feel like hurting yourself? There's a lot of people that have a misconception that that plants an idea in their head, that will not make a child think of suicide unless that ideation is already there."

And talking is key, a lot of times Scott says it’s hard to tell if a teen is just being a teen or there’s something bigger going on.

Scott Smith says, "They love to play video games and a lot of times don't want to talk so it is really subtle with teens. Ask them how they're doing and really listen because I think we ask and expect the person to say fine."

Scott says shedding light on depression and taking away the stigma is a step in the right direction.

And September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and there are two events coming up this next week to raise awareness.

This Saturday, the Benton-Franklin Suicide Prevention Coalition will host the 10th annual "Walk About to Talk About Suicide Prevention" Walk.

Registration for the mile-long walk begins at 10:30 am in the parking lot of Outback Steakhouse on Canal Drive in Kennewick.

The annual walk is free and open to all who wish to participate in raising awareness about suicide prevention and remembering those we have lost.

And next Tuesday, the Benton-Franklin Health District will be leading a youth suicide prevention summit. The event invites local organizations, schools, and medical personnel involved in suicide prevention efforts.

To register for the summit, call 509-460-4275.

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