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Bend candlelight vigil held for suicide prevention


Thursday was World Suicide Prevention Day, and Central Oregonians commemorated the day with a candlelight vigil at Larkspur Park.

Event organizer Leanna Leyes is the mother of Zack Leyes, who committed suicide last year in a classroom at Bend High School. She has dedicated herself to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention after Zack died.

She said she’s made I her mission to make sure people are as informed as possible, in order to help them prevent a similar tragedy from happening to another family.

“I think it’s so important for us to bring down the numbers of suicide,” Leyes said. “I think it’s really important for people to know that it’s one of the leading causes of death in the United States.”

National statistics show someone in the U.S. dies by suicide roughly every 13 minutes, vigil participants were told at the start of the event. And an average of 22 veterans a day die by suicide, which is also the second-leading cause of death among youth ages 10 to 24.

Also, for every suicide death, it’s estimated there are 20 suicide attempts nationwide.

Between 2011 and 2013, there was a 20 percent rise in the number of students who say they’ve considered suicide.

Suicide Prevention Project coordinator David Visiko said, “It’s important for people to talk about this issue, rather than to keep it in the dark or in silence.”

He also said it’s important to make sure you recognize the signs and are aware of who may be more prone to suicidal thoughts and actions.

“Ninety percent of people who have died by suicide had either a behavioral health issue or a substance abuse issue,” Visiko said.

Leanne said she believes it’s all about community help, and people feeling safe to admit when they are in pain.

“You need to be able to have good places to say when we are hurting and when we need help, and to not feel like someone’s going to look down on us for needing help,” Leyes said.

Deschutes County maintains a 24-Hours mental health crisis line at (541) 322-7500, extension 9.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available 24-hours a day at 1 -800-273-TALK (8255). This is a toll-free and confidential hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Each call is routed to the nearest crisis center to the caller.

Two more events are planned as Natonal Suicide Prevention Week draws to a close

On Saturday, 9-11:30 a.m., the Out of the Darkness Walk takes place from Pilot Butte State Park and the Larkspur Trail, a benefit for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Registration at 8:30 a.m. or contact Glenda Pinney, email or (541) 419-5303. For more information, Google “Out of Darkness Walk” or click link:

A week later, on Sept. 19, at 10 a.m. the Road to Recovery is a 5K walk to benefit NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illnes), at Crow’s Feet Commons, 875 NW Brooks Street, Bend. Registration at FootZone or

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