- Associated Press - Thursday, August 10, 2017

Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan, Yankton, Aug. 8

Suicide: The act of reaching out

There may be no issue that is either more painful or more stigmatizing than suicide. It creates - and leaves behind - nothing but victims, and it often festers in silence.

Suicide is a growing problem, touching practically every community. And yet, it remains a taboo issue, so much so that most media outlets still do not report on these cases out of concern of inspiring someone else to commit a similar, or copycat, act.

But in the Yankton area, at least, efforts have been made to confront the issue head-on. Two groups - the Anchoring to Hope Paul Taggart Foundation for Suicide Awareness and Aftercare, and Bridging Yankton, Pathways to Hope, Help & Healing - have formed in the last year or so to deal with suicide issues and to reach out to anyone anywhere who might be contemplating it. The groups also offer support to the survivors, providing help to light the path forward.

Yes, there are two different groups, who in recent weeks have held their own fundraising events. For whatever reasons, they function separately toward a common goal. That may appear perplexing to some, but that’s the reality of the situation.

But, in a way, it doesn’t even matter.

The real point is, there are more options available - more people to reach out to - if you are contemplating suicide.

We can’t pretend to understand the motives someone may have for taking their own life. No one who hasn’t been there can really grasp it fully. We can only surmise that it’s a lonely, hurting place - a state of mind so fragile and hopeless that ending it all looms at some distorted point as a preferable solution. In the process, all else - including the lasting impact the act has on friends and loved ones - is rendered secondary, and one’s own death actually comes to look like a solution.

It may be lonely, but a suicide victim is not alone. South Dakota has the 14th highest rate of suicides in the country, according to the group South Dakota Suicide Prevention. Two counties rank among the top 1 percent in the nation in the category. Suicide is also the second leading cause of death for teens and young adults in this state.

And what’s arguably the most painful part of this issue is that it is completely avoidable. If people could be reached, if help were sought, if the tools were there to offer intervention and assistance .

Suicide is a plague with too many ifs and not enough answers.

At least now, there are two more groups in Yankton working to reach potential suicides before they make a fateful, fatal decision. These groups can be the eyes and ears of the community. They can sponsor programs that can reach people and allow them to help themselves.

And that’s the great puzzle in all this. Ultimately, the people who need to be reached must want to be reached; they must be willing to ask for help and to want to live.

As we said, it’s a difficult issue to understand, and in a way, even people who battle suicidal thoughts probably don’t completely understand it either.

But they need to know there is help and hope available.

Please reach out to one of these groups, or to someone - anyone - who can offer assistance.

The creation of these two groups should tell you the one thing you need to know: You’re not alone in your struggle. And there are those who dearly want to help.


The Daily Republic, Mitchell, Aug. 7

Hisses and cheers

HISSES to a crumbling building near Mitchell’s Main Street.

City officials have closed a portion of Third Avenue near Main Street due to a 109-year-old structure’s potentially unsafe nature.

A large hole in the building has left the structure’s interior exposed while its owner attempts to repair it. While it’s annoying enough that an often-used avenue is closed and the demolition is embarrassing cosmetically, the situation bothers us most because it shouldn’t take something this urgent to put action in motion.

Main Street businesses and building owners should want to spruce up the downtown on their own accord. We need a successful downtown to be a strong community.

We applaud city officials for ensuring a solution is found for this problem and hope other Mitchell building owners take notice.

CHEERS to these outstandingly comfortable temperatures.

After what seemed to be a never-ending hot, dry July, we’re seeing some great August weather that’s unseasonably cool.

We’ll take the highs in the mid-70s with spotty rains to enjoy evening campfires and postseason baseball. It’s a great changeup from what we’ve been battling all summer.

The long-term forecast shows this weather is here to stay for a while, which also helps alleviate some of the worries of the severe drought that much of South Dakota remains in.

August typically brings heat, so let’s enjoy this weather while it lasts.

HISSES to the news that finalized the closing of a longtime rural restaurant.

The Tyndall Dairy Queen auctioned off its remaining equipment recently. While it was a seasonal business, we’re sad to see the franchise close its doors as it is one fewer option for local residents to utilize.

CHEERS to the group in Mount Vernon working to preserve the town’s history.

The newly formed Mount Vernon Historical Society is looking to establish a permanent museum to help gather memorabilia such as news and photos.

We applaud this group for its efforts as each town deserves to have its story told. Because of the work from this historical society, Mount Vernon residents will have that opportunity forever.


Capital Journal, Pierre, Aug. 9

County governments need some financial help

Nobody likes paying taxes.

And, here in South Dakota, we’ve done a pretty darn good job of making sure that we pay as little as possible into the public coffers. It’s a well-earned point of pride among South Dakotans that we don’t pay any state income tax. Our politicians continually tout the state’s balanced budget that routinely ends its fiscal years with surpluses, even, as was the case this year, when tax revenue comes in below projections.

To go along with our distaste for taxes is, quite responsibly, an aversion to spending public money. Should the spectre of a tax hike rear its ugly head anywhere in our state, there’s a contingent of voters that can always can be counted on to show up to fight tooth and nail against any new school, municipal swimming pool, or pay raise for their own employees.

Our state legislature has been particularly adept at ensuring that county governments are hamstrung when it comes to finding the money needed to pay for the things for which they’re legally mandated to pay. Among those mandates are criminal prosecution, criminal detention and roads.

There are consequences to our state government’s zeal to ensure that property owners aren’t overly burdened with the costs of maintaining the essential infrastructure upon which they rely.

The signs of strain have been showing for several years now at the county level. In Hughes County, for example, money hasn’t been available to help programs such as 4-H. There’s barely enough money to make all the needed road repairs. And, on Monday, Hughes County Sheriff Mike Leidholt expressed his concerns about being underpaid.

The jail that Leidholt oversees as sheriff is the third largest in the state and actually generates about $3 million in revenue for the county, thanks to federal detainees and the holding of inmates for other counties. Leidholt oversees more than 50 employees between the jail and his deputies.

Still, Leidholt is paid less than the county’s highway superintendent, who oversees about 12 people. That’s why, Leidholt said, he asked for a pay raise in his latest budget request.

The problem is that there’s not enough money to go around. Largely, this is because counties are restricted by state law from monkeying with their main source of revenue - property taxes. This on its surface seems like a small-government idea. It’s not. In fact, it encourages big government by forcing counties to use more state and federal dollars to make their ends meet.

As the cost of law enforcement and road repairs continue to rise, counties will find themselves falling further and further behind on their revenues. South Dakota needs to reevaluate how it treats its county governments and what they’re allowed to do to raise money. This does not need to result in an overall tax increase but counties need to be able to raise the money they need to fund the essential services upon which we all rely.

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