Hundreds of empty shoes outside Capitol symbolize people lost to suicide

MADISON, Wis. — Hundreds of pairs of shoes covered one side of the State Capitol steps Tuesday morning.

It’s an annual reminder of the all-too-real mental and emotional struggles people deal with in Wisconsin and beyond.

There were more than 900 pairs of shoes placed by the Center for Suicide Awareness on Tuesday. Each pair symbolizes a person in Wisconsin who died by suicide in the last year.

The Centers for Disease Control says suspected suicide attempts in girls ages 12 to 17 have increased 51% during the pandemic.

RELATED: Suicide awareness, the signs, and how you can respond

The Center for Suicide Awareness is offering some tips on how you can help.

“Let’s be nicer, kinder, reach out to people more,” said executive director Barb Bigalke. “If it’s a text, if it’s a message, if it’s a Facetime saying ‘how are you doing? I haven’t heard from you in awhile?’ Maybe it’s not getting together, right, but it’s checking gin with each other, that’s what we can do.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety, relationships, stress, or suicidal thoughts, please text Hopeline to 741741 for immediate help.