On 9/29 the Calumet Park Cemetery sponsored its first 5K walk/run for Suicide Awareness and Prevention.
I was honored to be a guest speaker and I wanted to share my speech with you.
For a first ever 5K event the turnout was great. Way more than I expected. The staff at Calumet Park are outstanding. I had no idea such a beautiful place existed in NW Indiana.
I lost my son Nolan 2 years ago to suicide. He is forever 19 years old.
The question I ask myself, as I am sure you have ask as well – IS WHY?
Ask it once, maybe one hundred times, Maybe a thousand times?
Why does someone take their life?
Now let me ask a different “why ” question- why are you here?
Many of us here have lost a loved one to suicide; a family member, a friend, a coworker, a friend of a friend. Maybe you are here in support of someone who suffered the loss.
Suicide awareness is a bit more on the radar in the last months with the loss of celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Our society acknowledges the loss, the media brings up the subject, a bit of time is spent on the discussion, and due to its uncomfortable and ever so sad act that suicide is — the subject is changed.
A researcher on suicide named Thomas Joiner authored a book –“Myths about Suicide” where he states there are two psychological states of mind of the person considering suicide
-They perceive they are a burden to others
– They have a sense of not belonging
We know we do not want the numbers of loss to suicide to increase.
Today we say we want to help. To help those in our community who struggle with mental illness, PTSD, substance abuse, chronic pain and other conditions known as risk for suicide – we say we promise we will speak up if we see or hear words or actions in people we know. More than ever we see now that asking about suicide and bringing it up is not to be feared. We are better educated and more confident to act when before we might have thought we would do more harm.
We are not better off without those we lost to suicide. They were never a burden. We acknowledge a person with suicide thoughts may feel alone and that they feel they do not belong. This is where we will work to give hope and opportunity for those that feel they need to end their pain by suicide.
So instead of asking why – I suggest we do what we need to do.
We live on and continue to help prevent more people ending their pain by suicide.
I thank Calumet Park Cemetery for creating this event. Our participation today will help fund two great local groups – PATH and Operation Combat Bike Saver.
While you run or walk or get pushed in a wheelchair like me – take the time to reflect on WHY you are here. We belong here – to keep our loved ones – be they a child, spouse, parent, relative, friend, veteran or first responder in our hearts and in our minds.
We want our pain of loss to help others never go where their end is too soon and our lives are forever missing them.
Nolan is in my heart and is with me every day until I see him again.