By Frank Stanko
The third annual Operation Zero Bike Show and Street Dance, a suicide awareness and prevention event, is returning to Wahpeton.
From 12-11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, Dakota Avenue will be closed from Third Street North to Fourth Street North. Approximately 400 people attended the 2018 event.
“Our mission is to eliminate veteran suicide by raising money for veteran mental health programs,” the Vietnam Vets-Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club stated
Suicide is currently the leading cause of death in the U.S. military. Each day, 29 veterans attempt suicide, according to information shared by organizers.
“Twenty of those veterans die. That’s about one suicide every 65 minutes,” Vietnam Vets-Legacy Vets continued.
Operation Zero is a nonprofit organization with a goal of no veteran suicides. Proceeds from the 2018 event benefitted veterans mental health work in Fargo and helped send two volunteers to suicide intervention training.
Wahpeton’s upcoming event will feature a bike show from 12-5 p.m. The entrance fee is a free-will donation and judging occurs at 5 p.m.
Confusion will headline a street dance held from 7-11 p.m. Additional activities include a silent auction, dunk tank and bounce house for youth. Food and drinks will be available.
Operation Zero’s admission is $5, with youth 12 and under getting in for free.
“All bikes and everyone are welcome,” Vietnam Vets-Legacy Vets stated.
The group works to raise funds for use in training, education and support of other worthwhile charities. The organization also helps spread information on suicide warning signs.
Depression and other brain disorders are the leading risk factors of suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They are followed by alcohol and drug addiction.
Suicide warning signs include constant feelings of sadness or depression, deteriorating physical appearance and dramatic mood changes.
A suicidal person may express feelings that life is not work living or show signs of desperation, agitation, anxiety or difficulty sleeping. They are commonly characterized by their withdrawals from friends or family and exhibit feelings of excessive shame or guilt.
Inclusiveness is a characteristic of Vietnam Vets-Legacy Vets’ anti-suicide mission.
“We work to aid in educating our brothers; develop a safety plan and partner with other community-based organization,” the group stated.