Out of Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention Sept. 21 in Milford

Out of Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention Sept. 21 in Milfordseed017_darlene_bignotti

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Sept. 11, 2014)

When Laura Edwards lost her son Chase to suicide at the age of 12 in 2003, she knew she had to do something to let other parents know about the risk factors and signs so that other parents may not have to go through the loss her family experienced.

She began volunteering with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention which does both research and prevention. Since 2007 she’s been the Chair of the Out of Darkness Walk which raises money for the cause. seed013_larry_and_monica_millsThis year will be her last year as Chair, as she is ready to pass the torch to someone new.

The walk takes place Sept. 21 at Kensington Metro Park’s Maple Beach in Milford. Check in is 11am to 12:30pm. It is an easy-paced three mile walk that allows people to talk, reminisce and support each other, as nearly everyone is touched by suicide at some point in their lives.

Last year about 1250 walkers raised over $125,000. “The walk is sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, NY based Not for Profit, 50 percent of the funds raised to to NY for research and education.  50% of the funds remain with the Michigan Chapter of the AFSP for local programs and initiatives in Michigan,” she explained.

“My husband and I have the philosophy that people grieving should not ‘waste their grief’…and that is exactly what we have done.  We both decided that even if our grief took us on different paths to heal, we agreed that seed020_heather_coleman_vossthe most healing thing we both could do was to try and educate as many people as we could…as well as help as many survivors as we could.

“After the loss of our son Chase, everyone stayed away.  We felt so alone.  Suicide is a loss like no other.  When you lose someone to suicide, all you feel is guilt.  The woulda, coulda,and shoulda’s eat you alive.  I can remember going to Target the first time after about 3 months we lost Chase.  I saw a few women that I had been friends with at the store….upon noticing me, and seed010_todd_blakenshipmaking eye contact, they pushed their carts the other way.  Did I have some kind of disease?  Why is that mental illness is treated differently then cancer?  Why is my son remembered by “how he died” then who he was?  It was important to educate people about mental illness and suicide.  Help to stop the stigma.  It was a mission for both Jeff and I.”

When asked what advice she would have for any parent who wants to look out for their child, Edwards said “First, as a parent, the best knowledge you can have is knowing the warning signs of Depression and Suicide.  Parents need to know if there is any mental illness in the family.  Stop, look and listen.  STOP.. take time in your day to ask your children how they are doing?  Are they sleeping good, eating well, have their grades been slipping, or are they straight A students and perfectionists?  Are they going out with friends or a bit withdrawn?  Stomachaches, headaches?    LOOK at your kids, are they keeping clean, taking pride in their appearances, or maybe they are not.  LISTEN…listen to what they say, how they react in conversation.  Do they seem hopeless in their response.  seed032sheryl_l_mitchell

“I think if you have a child that is very creative, often times creative kids have more issues.  In order to be creative and the reason they are creative is because they “feel” everything.  For most of us, a bad day can end when we go to sleep…”tomorrow will be better” we say, but to those who take everything to heart, they look like they might get over the bad day…but it stays with them.  They collect them, they don’t let go.  They wear their heart on their sleeve.  We have to ‘drain in our sinks’ and every so often we pull the plug out and let out some water.  Some seed014_melinda_hicks_familypeople cannot reach the drain plug…every drop in the sink, stays in the sink, eventually, the sink overflows.”

Edwards’s husband Jeff does public speaking on the subject of suicide prevention, sharing his family’s experiences. Among his many outreach efforts was speaking to Royal Oak SAFE about a year ago. Video and story on that presentation can be found at http://oaklandcounty115.com/2013/09/28/royal-oak-safe-addresses-issue-of-suicide-video/.

For more information on the Metro Detroit Out of Darkness Walk visit http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=2664.

For resources on suicide prevention see outofthedarkness.org.seed14_chad_matt

Also be aware of the information below, and share the warning signs with others

Know the warning signs of Depression…and SAVE lives!!
1.  Feeling Sad
2.  Loss of interest or Enjoyment in Activities
3.  Change in Appetite or Weight
4.  Excessive Frustration or Irritability
5.  Difficulty Sleeping or Oversleeping
6.  Energy Loss or Fatigue
7.  Feelings of Worthlessness or Inappropriate Guilt
8.  Difficulty Thinking and concentrating
seed04_galloway9.  Recurrent Thoughts of Death or Suicide
10.Feelings of Helplessness and Hopelessness
11. Self-Destructive or Reckless/Risk taking Behavior
12. Preoccupation with thoughts of Death
13. Extreme Withdrawal from friends, family and Usual Activities
14. Giving Away Favorite Possessions
15. Neglect of Academic work and or personal appearance

“If a child has 5 or more of the following symptoms present at once during a two-week period, he or she may be suffering from Depression!  Call your physician now,” Edwards said.

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