Monday, March 1, 2010

So many lost, so many left behind and all preventable: Boston Overnight Walk

The 2010 Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk is June 26-27 in Boston

Please support me. Come walk with me. You can register for the walk here, or if you like, you can support me by going to my page here. Please take steps to save lives, reach out to those devastated from losing a loved one to suicide and help create an outlet to help end the silence.

I offer a story. I have posted it before. I wish I had a different story to share, but there is no other version of the story for my family. Sadly, for my family our story will always remain unchanged.
I can remember it so clearly. It was just a few hours before the clock struck twelve and it would be my husband’s birthday. He loves presents, but always makes it difficult for me to get the right thing. He acts as if his birthday doesn’t matter to him, but I do think he likes a bit of a fuss.

The message on my phone wasn't very clear. There was a great deal of background noise. I could hardly hear him say, “Call me now, it’s an emergency!” I tried calling several times, but he wasn’t answering. Finally, I called my father-in-law and I could have never predicted what would come next. His voice was different; it was slow and soft as he calmly explained to me that my husband’s brother had just killed himself. He was 26 years old. It was incomprehensible. I couldn't make sense of it. Even after years of working in mental health, I could not even begin to grasp what I was hearing.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. He and my husband were best friends. Al was always there. He did everything with us. I remember he would come out on the boat with us. He never got out on the ski or wake board. He never drove either. He just liked to come along for the ride. He liked to spend time with his brother. The feeling was mutual. They were very close. Where you found one, you would very likely find the other.

It only takes a momentary glance to see the sadness in my husband’s eyes. I have come to know this silent sorrow all too well, because it dwells in our family. I have experienced other family members dying. I have talked about my father's death, which had a profound effect on me, but this is different; there is a silence that accompanies suicide. The silence is deafening. Each December we are quiet, our conversation subdued, as his birthday passes and the holidays come and go. Then there is my husband's birthday, and even though we rarely speak of the night he killed himself, we are all thinking about it. I don’t really know how to say it other than directly. I miss Alfred. I really miss him. There is so much silence. I wish we could talk about him more.

With his permission, I decided last year I would give my husband a different sort of birthday gift. On the night of June 27 -28, 2009, I joined thousands of other people on a 18-mile walk overnight, out of the darkness and into the dawn in Chicago Illinois as part of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's, Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk. I walked for Alfred and my family.

Here is short clip from the walk this year in Chicago.

My family cannot change our story, but there are many stories not yet written. Many that can end with hope and possibility.

What will I do?

This year I will join thousands in Boston Massachusetts who are taking steps to save lives. The goal of this journey, which will begin at dusk and finish at dawn, is to raise funds for suicide prevention. I will help end the silence and erase the stigma surrounding suicide and its causes, encourage those suffering from mental illness to seek treatment, and show support for the families and friends of the 30,000 Americans who die by suicide each year. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens and young adults and the second leading cause of death for college students.

What can you do?

Please support me. Come walk with me. You can register for the walk here, or if you like you can support me by going to my page here.

Please take steps to save lives.
So many lost, so many left behind and all preventable.

Some facts about suicide from the World Health Organization (WHO)

•In the year 2000, approximately one million people died from suicide: a "global" mortality rate of 16 per 100,000, or one death every 40 seconds.
-It's 2010 now! How many have been lost? Read the next line--too many

•In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide. Suicide is now among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 years (both sexes); these figures do not include suicide attempts up to 20 times more frequent than completed suicide.

•Suicide worldwide is estimated to represent 1.8% of the total global burden of disease in 1998, and 2.4% in countries with market and former socialist economies in 2020.

•Although traditionally suicide rates have been highest among the male elderly, rates among young people have been increasing to such an extent that they are now the group at highest risk in a third of countries, in both developed and developing countries.

•Mental disorders (particularly depression and substance abuse) are associated with more than 90% of all cases of suicide; however, suicide results from many complex socio-cultural factors and is more likely to occur particularly during periods of socioeconomic, family and individual crisis situations (e.g. loss of a loved one, employment, honor).

Unfortunately the list goes on. To learn more you can visit the AFSP website here.


  1. We are very proud of you and your commitment.
    Love Mom and David

  2. A,

    So, great leaders do so with their hearts...regardless of the winds of the moment...and they act with motion not just with words....

    Thank you

    Mike Rona