September is Suicide Awareness month. Unfortunately this is a subject I have dealt with this on more than one occasion.
Losing someone is never easy. Losing someone who takes their own life can be even harder. I have dealt with this personally and am still learning how to deal.
My first experience with suicide was in middle school. By the age of 12 and 13, we had to process such grown up emotions and thoughts. Since that time, the suicide rate in young people has increased dramatically as we know. According to the CDC, in 2017 suicide was the leading cause of death for ages 10-24.
Older and Wiser
Fast forward about 7 year later. I lost my best friend, my first friend I made when I moved to Lafayette, sorority sister and quite possibly the person who knew me better than anyone in the world at that time.
A meeting was called to explain what had happened to my chapter sisters. This time was different. This time I was older. I understood the stress of life more. I understood what she was going through. Unlike last time though, I felt guilty. I did what most do in this situation and questioned why I didn’t see this coming. I questioned why I didn’t call her back the other day when I missed her call. I couldn’t see going on without my best friend.
Finding the Light
After months of work and therapy I found an organization in the area that filled the space in my heart that was missing. I became involved in the Acadiana Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I found people who had lost someone near and dear. They worked to teach signs of someone who may be at risk, raised money for research and classes, and gave support to one another. I volunteered with them for a number of years working the annual Acadiana Out of The Darkness Walk and learning as much as I could about prevention. It was perfect as I have always been one who loves philanthropy and this was heavy on my heart. The organization now visit schools around the area to inform those of the epidemic and how to assist and cope.
Over the years, kids came, as did their activities. I have moved away from being able to put the work into the organization as I used to, but I still support them in any way I can.
Two years ago, we lost my husband’s best friend. As soon as we could, we organized a team for the annual walk to memorialize him and had quite a few friends participate in the walk and raised money through Facebook posts, etc. The next year a few of the friends organized a memorial in his honor, raised money and donated to his favorite philanthropy, St. Jude. The second anniversary just passed and not one of us have forgotten him and continue to celebrate his life.
Becoming Involved For the Cause
The Out of the Darkness walk is a great way to remember those loved ones. The organization and the volunteers are second to none and love like none other. This year the walk will look different (thank you COVID and 2020), but it’s still going to happen. Check out their Facebook page for more information.