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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published November 07 2010

Suicide education can help prevent it

Every time Mary Weiler hears about another death by suicide, she gets a lump in her throat and an ache in her heart.

Weiler, chairwoman of North Dakota’s chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, is reaching out to residents of Cooperstown, N.D., who are grieving the loss of 16-year-old Cassidy Andel, who took her own life Thursday.

Weiler’s daughter Jen died by suicide five years ago at age 33. Weiler sat down on Saturday to write a message to the Andel family.

“I know my daughter has her own story of deep struggles, depression, anxiety, and more than likely the hardest struggle of all was working so hard to hide the intense physical, emotional pain from her family and friends day after day,” Weiler wrote.

Weiler also sent information to Andel’s pastor and school superintendent to assist people affected by her death.

Mary Weiler’s daughter Brenda, also on the board of North Dakota’s American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said it’s important to educate people about suicide.

Brenda Weiler said she didn’t recognize some of the warning signs in her sister.

Warning signs

Here are some tips from the AFSB on what to do if you fear a loved one may be contemplating suicide:

Tips for survivors

Mary Weiler said for every suicide death, there is an average of six survivors. In some cases, an individual’s death may affect an entire community.

“Friends are considered survivors, it’s not just immediate family,” Brenda Weiler said.

For Mary Weiler, holidays and the anniversary of her daughter’s death are still difficult, but she finds that with time she has more inner strength to handle it better.

Organizing the annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk has been an effective way for the family to cope.

“I’ve always said, it’s not about getting over it, it’s about carrying it with you,” she said. “And it’s how you choose to carry it with you to always honor, respect and remember. That’s how you have to look at it.”

Here are tips from the AFSB for survivors:

More information

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590