The efforts of two women to raise awareness of suicide - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

The efforts of two women to raise awareness of suicide


Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. according to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.

"It was something that took my family and I by complete shock," said Maria Schwartz, who lost her mother to suicide. "I don't think there is a way that you can prepare yourself to lose a loved one that way, but she lived such a beautiful life."

"She always was the life of the party, always had a fun smile," said Jenni Vander Sluis, who lost her sister to suicide. 

Approximately 750,000 people attempt suicide each year in the United States- according to

One Siouxland town, is trying to bring awareness to the community, and let others know they are not alone.

"This can really happen, and people really do feel this way," said Vander Sluis.

Sheldon, Iowa, is holding the "Breaking the Silence" walk to raise awareness of suicide.

"Its just a great way to get together and actually laugh, instead of be sad all the time," said Vander Sluis. "It makes you realize you have other people to lean on, then just your immediate family."

"I think knowing that there are others out there who are going through the same thing as you, is helpful," said Schwartz. "It brings hope to know that it is ok to remember your loved one, and talk about them and their life."

2017 was the first year that the Suicide Walk took place in Sheldon. 

"We were stunned at the outpouring of support we had from people who had been impacted by suicide themselves," said Maria Schwartz, who lost her mother to suicide. "Or just area businesses or things that wanted to donate. It was...overwhelming."

The walk is open to anyone and everyone- and the goal is to reassure you, that you are not alone.

"Hopefully we can reach out to people who are suffering, or even make it aware to children, and even adults," said Vander Sluis. "About how serious this suicide awareness is."

Walking to raise awareness, and walking to remember their loved ones.

"I really have felt a presence from Lauren lately," adds Vander Sluis. "And so everything that has happened in my life the last 9 months, makes me feel like this walk is really important."

"I know she's proud," adds Schwartz. "I do."

The "Breaking the Silence" walk is on Saturday, September 15th at 3 p.m. at Sheldon Middle School.

There are warning signs associated with suicide.

For a full list of warning signs, and more information on suicide, click here:

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