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Submitted, Published November 17 2010

An open letter from the family of Cassidy Andel, who took her life Nov. 4

On Thursday, November 4th we lost our daughter Cassidy to suicide. As a family we feel it is important to share our thoughts and to reach out to help others who may be struggling with depression and anxiety as our daughter did. We want the community to know that it is important to learn more about depression as well as the warning signs and risk factors that may lead to suicide. Depression is the leading cause of suicide and is the most treatable of all mood disorders. More than 80 percent of people diagnosed with depression respond positively to treatment.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, has a history of suicide attempts, or has a family history of suicide or depression please get them help. If you or someone you know has seemed hopeless, is having sleeping or eating problems, has talked about dying or has a plan to end their life, please know that help is available. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for assistance. It is vital to know that bullying is one of the many contributing factors that can precipitate a suicide. Suicide is most often the result of a combination of many different factors including emotional, psychological and physical. People who die by suicide desperately want to live, but can’t tolerate the physical and emotional pain they are in and this pain makes it difficult to see other options.

What works is bringing awareness and education about suicide to families, schools and communities. Knowing what to do if someone you know is struggling or talking about ending their life will help save lives. Educational materials such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s ”More Than Sad: Teen Depression” program can help inform students, teachers and parents about depression. It is our hope that by teaching adolescents to recognize the warning signs of depression in themselves or others suicide deaths will decrease.

To honor and remember our daughter Cassidy, our family will be working with the ND Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and hope to be involved with the Out of the Darkness Community Walks in 2011. We want to work to raise awareness for suicide prevention in our community- not only for our middle and high school students but for those families who have lost someone to suicide as we have.

We want to thank the Cooperstown community for all of the support they have given us during this difficult time in our lives. We could not have gotten through this without you. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We truly believe that if we help provide the resources to our community we can save lives. For anyone wishing to get involved please visit www.afsp.org/northdakota.

Amy and Lyle Andel

Cooperstown, ND