Dear Editor:

Over the years, as Mayor of Chatham Township I have made a concerted effort to increase awareness of suicide prevention. My interest in doing so stems from my early days on the Committee when I learned of a young Chatham Township father who died by suicide. While I did not know the individual, I committed myself, with the support of the Township Committee, to do whatever we could to help increase awareness of this important topic.

For the past several years, in conjunction with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the Township Committee has hosted several Talk Saves Lives community-based presentations that discussed the research on prevention and what we can do to fight suicide. You can view replays on the Township website (http://bit.ly/2h8VZIi).

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Last year we hosted our second annual Chatham Township Out of the Darkness Community Walk in support of the AFSP. This event was a tremendous success and brought important awareness around suicide prevention and raised more than $75,000 among 350 walkers. This brought our two year fundraising total to more than $150,000.

This coming Saturday, September 22, we will host our third annual Out of the Darkness Walk at Cougar Field beginning at 4:30. Residents from the Chathams and the surrounding communities of Summit, Madison, Florham Park, Millburn, Short Hills, and elsewhere are participating. I encourage you to register today and join us in the fight against suicide at www.afsp.org/chathamtwp.

It is our hope that all this walking will lead to talking, which is what we need to help remove the stigma when it comes to suicide prevention. Suicide touches one in five American families and it does not discriminate; so whether you’re able to join us on September 22nd or not, please consider having a conversation with your family and friends. Remind them that suicide is now the nation's tenth-leading cause of death, and the second-leading cause of death for Americans aged 15-34 years old. If we are able to help one person think twice about suicide then we will have succeeded.

 

Curt Ritter

Mayor, Chatham Township