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National Alliance for Mental Illness to Hold 5k Run/Walk to Prevent Suicide

NAMI, or the National Alliance for Mental Illness, has an active office in Springfield. (Photo credit: KSMU)

Statistics show that the rate of suicide in Greene County is higher than the state average. KSMU’s Samuel Crowe reports.

According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, or NAMI, the rate of suicide in Greene County is 15 suicides out of every 100,000 people. That’s higher than the state average, which is 13.1.

DeWayne Long is the Executive Director of the NAMI in southwest Missouri.  He’s been with the organization for 10 years. He began checking the local suicide trends, as well as prevention training about six years ago because he didn’t think enough was being done to help people who dealt with mental illnesses.

Out of the 23 people who committed suicide locally in 2005, one of them was a 9 year-old-child.  Long says that was a turning point for him, and he decided to try to increase awareness. A few years later, Long saw the suicide numbers increase.

“What happened in 2008 was 50 individuals completed suicide in just Greene County alone. At that same time, 17 people committed homicide. Now, we heard all about the homicides in the news. But we never heard about the suicide information,” Long said.

In light of this sharp increase, the Alliance began a prevention program that encourages people to become more open with their thoughts and feelings about suicide. Since then, Long says there’s been a decrease in the Greene County suicide rate. 

“There’s been a little bit more dialogue, people ultimately talking about the issue of suicide. Again, we have done trainings and QPR suicide prevention training to probably over 700 individuals in the last two years, giving them the tools to become an intervener,” Long said.

NAMI is hosting a 5k run/walk this Friday to increase awareness on suicide prevention. Long says the run/walk is a way to get the word out on suicide in a community that may have trouble dealing with mental illness.

“We’re running specifically to tell the community that suicide is a problem. One suicide is too many, much less having 39. And then obviously the funds that we raise help us to go out and provide more training for young people, for adults, and for seniors, to give them the tools that they need in order to perhaps save someone’s life,” he said.

Long says many volunteers are still needed for the event, which takes place Friday on the South Creek Trail in Springfield, just behind the Forest Institute. Those interested can call 864 – 7119 or visit  For KSMU News, I’m Samuel Crowe.