Suicide is a growing problem that has devastated many families in the United States — and it’s a topic many are uncomfortable talking about.
Alyssa White of West Fargo is doing her part to help bring awareness to suicide, and ultimately help prevent it. She wants to further educate people about the warning signs and stigmas around it.
On the trunk and back of her #14 IMCA Hobby Stock is a list of victims of suicide, which she received permission from a Facebook support group to put on the car. The Suicide Prevention Hotline phone number is listed, along with the phrase Suicide Victims or not “weak,” “selfish” or “cowards.” There are hashtags #break the silence, #youmatter, #youarenotalone #nevergiveup
For White, a third-year racer, the subject is personal. She knows some of the names on the victims list, and has dealt with depression herself before.
“It’s something that I think needs awareness. I’ve battled with suicidal tendencies and depression before,” White said. “The first name on the car is actually a girl from my hometown. I was thinking at the end of last season, this is something that doesn’t get a lot of recognition. People talk about it, but they don’t talk, if that makes sense. I wanted to raise awareness for it and thought this was an awesome way to do it."
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2017:
—Suicide was the 10th leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of over 47,000 people.
—Suicide was the second-leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54.
—There were more than twice as many suicides (47,173) in the United States as there were homicides (19,510).
The names and messages on the trunk of the car have drawn attention.
“I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this,” White said. “It’s both awareness, and getting people to realize it is a really huge thing that is going on society. If people don’t talk about it, it’s just going to continue to get worse and people are going to lose loved ones.”
So while she is carrying an important message on her car, Alyssa also enjoys being behind the wheel of it, too. Her parents, Jim and Gina, both raced for several years and that is how she got interested. At the age of 14, Alyssa hopped behind the wheel of her hobby stock for the first time. Unlike several drivers, Alyssa did not have a background in go-karts -- she was thrown directly into the fire.
“All of the Test-and-Tunes, they got cancelled. I jumped right into the car on the first night,” White said.
It’s been a learning curve for the now 16-year-old. She had heat wins prior to this year and set a goal of her first feature win this summer. Despite some early motor and transmission issues, on July 18, she accomplished that goal, winning a feature at Norman County Raceway. She now has three feature wins at NCR, where she is third in the points. White is also third in the points at Red River Valley Speedway, where she has eight top five finishes.
“I just do it for fun,” White said. “Wherever I finish, I finish.”
IMCA Hobby Stock #14
Residence: West Fargo, ND
Sponsors: STC Flooring, Lynx Logistics, Dakota Fluid Power, Nichols Family Chiropractic, Smith Auto Repair, Century 21 FM Realty, Spruce It Up Construction, Interstate Batteries, Who Has Buttons, United Industrial Coatings, Art Wraps Signs and Graphics, Dad and Mom, Matt Skalet, Master Transmission, Jerry Freisen, North Central Engine, Shayne Laske, Darrell Nelson, Grass Roots Racing, Sparrow Ranch Racing, Robbie and Amy Simonar, Lou Moseler.