A little over seven years ago, my life changed forever. My son, Jamie, died by suicide.
Along with battling the question of why, I ask myself what more I could have done. These are the questions that all who lose a loved one to suicide have to deal with.
It's not easy to talk about this with anyone, and for years, deaths by suicide have not been discussed openly. Our family has chosen to be open about discussing our loss, and we are also trying to be pro-active, to get information out to the general public.
That's why we started the Out of the Darkness Walk five years ago. That first year, we had 120 walkers and we were amazed at the turnout. Last year, the number had grown to 455 walkers, so we are well aware there is a need to get this out in the open. Not only are the walkers walking to honor their lost loved ones, but there is a lot of support and a lot of discussion that occurs on these walks.
The 2012 Out of the Darkness walk will be on Sept. 15, starting in East Silver Lake Park. This walk is for anyone who has been affected by suicide. â€¨â€¨Jamie worked for Whistle Binkies Olde World Pub in Rochester, and this business has been very supportive of our walks. In June, Whistle Binkies on the Lake hosts an annual golf tournament as a memorial to Jamie, and Whistle Binkies North has their Anniversary Party and Jamie Engle Charity Event. Proceeds from both of these events go to the walk, and during the past two years alone, Whistle Binkies has donated over $34,000 to the walk.
My family and I work at the Whistle Binkies Anniversary Party and Jamie Engle Charity Event, and there is always someone talking to me about their experience with suicide or asking for suggestions on where to go for help. I don’t have any answers, but I’m a good listener. Survivors need to be able to talk to others that understand what they have gone through and what they are still going through.
Among other places to go for support, a group called Survivors of Suicide meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month, at Evangel Methodist Church in Rochester. For more information, contact Gloria Krause at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are trained facilitators for these meetings and all involved have lost someone to suicide.
I invite you to help get suicide “Out of the Darkness” and join my family, friends and others at the walk and by making a donation. Contributions will help the work of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and all donations are tax-deductible. Proceeds go directly to local suicide prevention, support and education.