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Suicide Memorial Planned For Rapid City

This week is National Suicide Awareness week. South Dakota ranks 6 in the nation for suicide. The Front Porch Coalition in Rapid City offers services for people effected by suicide. They’re marking awareness week with a memorial butterfly release and film screening. 

The film is called The Ripple Effect. It follows a man who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge in a suicide attempt and survived. It highlights how people are effected when someone they know commits suicide. The Front Porch Coalition in Rapid City trains volunteers to check in on family and close friends of people who have committed suicide. Toni Speckman, the Director of Communications, says these volunteers can relate. 

“They all have been touched by suicide by one way or another. Have lost somebody, a friend, a family member and have a heart to go out there and help these people.” 

Speckman says they try to match volunteers to the people with experiences of loss that are close to their own. In 2017, less than 20 volunteers followed about 400 people. Speckman says volunteers show up off aid immediately following a suicide. 

“Three point five years is when people normally without the loss team go and get help after they’ve lost somebody. So when we’re dispatched by 911, we’re right there with the police officers, offering our services, being with them and supporting that family.” 


The loss team has been around for more than ten years. Speckman says when people loose someone close to suicide, in creates a ripple effect and puts them at higher risk for suicide. 

“That’s why our loss team goes out and we follow them for a year. To make sure that those family and friends are doing ok and that they’re coping or if they’re struggling, we try to get them help.” 

Speckman says volunteers attend funerals and events, and make phone calls or house visits when needed. The memorial event is scheduled for Saturday at Canyon Lake Park in Rapid City.