LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - People across the Coulee Region came together Saturday and danced in the name of suicide awareness and prevention.
The event, Dance for Hope, is a way for people who've been touched by suicide to open up about their experience.
Organizers said even though suicide isn't an easy topic to talk about, Saturday's event helped to remind people how important talking can be to prevent suicide.
Dancing and suicide are two things not often associated with one another, but the La Crosse Area Suicide Prevention Initiative thinks it's one way to start a tough conversation.
"We decided that it would be important to do something that's fun and light," Tim Blumentritt, social worker and organizer for Dance for Hope, said.
This event invites people from all over the Coulee Region to open up through dance.
"There are a lot of people that have been affected by suicide, either of a close friend or a family member or co-worker, and the reason why we wanted to have an event like this is mainly to get people to talk," Blumentritt said.
Talking about suicide is something one woman at the event has done far too many times.
"My husband fought in the Vietnam War. He came home and he said 'I cannot accept what I did. I know I was in the service, I had to protect myself, I was fighting for my country, but I can't accept it. I hurt every day of my life'," Marcy Hutschenradter, a suicide prevention advocate, said
Hutschenradter wore three strands of beads Saturday, one for each member of her family she has lost to suicide; Her nephew, her brother, and her husband.
"They were hurting very deeply inside and they (thought) that was the only solution out is by doing away with themselves," Hutschenradter said.
"Annually, there are nearly 700 people in Wisconsin that die by suicide," Blumentritt said.
In 2010, 12.4 percent of deaths in the U.S. were suicides. Wisconsin's rate was higher that at 13.9 percent and Minnesota was below the average at 11.4 percent.
But Blumentritt said events like Saturday's can help bring those numbers down.
"It's a huge number and we would like to think that we can make a difference," Blumentritt said.
There is a hotline for families or individuals dealing with suicide. You can call 211 day or night for help or more information on suicide prevention.
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