On October 1 I will be participating in a fundraising walk. I'm not doing it for exercise. I'm doing it because three years ago my dad Ken died from suicide caused by depression. There I said it - I hate saying it. Even though society's stigma surrounding suicide has lessened considerably in the last few years, and I consider myself an educated and enlightened person on the subject, it is still hard to think about his death without some disbelief that I am a suicide loss survivor.
While the shock of Dad's death has softened greatly, it still overtakes me at times. I'll never have a chance to make that last call to say all the things that might make a difference -- as they do in my dreams. Alone in the car, I've struggled to understand how this could have happened As if that knowledge would unlock the key to an ending where Dad heartily enjoys Nicole's lasagna at a family gathering again. I know the guilt and self-recrimination I feel at not recognizing and insisting he see a professional is natural and normal. And yet, the reality is -- Dad died, and my family feels that loss like any family that loses a loved one. I begrudgingly accept it full of gratitude for my community that refused to let me be isolated by the circumstances. Now I choose to do what I can to help others.
According to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. And for every suicide, 25 people attempt it. The cost is great not only in grief and anguish but in billions of dollars annually. There is no single cause to suicide. It most often occurs when stressors exceed the current coping abilities of someone suffering from a mental health condition. On average there are 121 suicides per day, and I was surprised to learn the rate is highest in middle age - white men in particular. Younger groups have consistently lower rates than middle-aged and older adults.
Partnering with AFSP "Madison Out of the Darkness Community Walk", is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. Their goal is to reduce suicide 20 percent by 2025. Their efforts focus on raising awareness and funds to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors.
Two of my sisters are volunteering with the Wisconsin Chapter of AFSP to organize
this year's Madison walk and all five of us along with partners, kids, and friends have formed "Team Feiner" in recognition of Dad's struggle. We do it because we know firsthand the pain of losing someone from suicide and wish to spare others. We do it because it's too late to prevent his death but not to prevent that of others. We do it to support those who survive suicide loss.
If you'd like to walk with Team Feiner (we'd love to have you join us!), create your own team, be a volunteer at the walk, or contribute monetarily to our team, a different team, or in general, you can sign up here. If you have a raffle donation, please email my sister Renata.
The event is at Warner Park on October 1 and includes both a 1-mile or a 2.75-mile walk, a raffle and a memorial activity. Registration is free and starts at 9am for either of the walks which begin at 10am. They will be followed by the raffle and memorial activity. All contributions are tax-deductible.
Thank you for considering my request,