On September 28, Didi Hirsch hosted their 16th annual Alive Walk 5k Walk/Run for Suicide Prevention. Visions had a team this year, and several staff and alumni walked in honor of suicide prevention and to raise awareness and erase the stigma of suicide. Many of us have had the misfortune of losing someone to suicide, and finding a way to honor the lives of those lost while raising awareness to prevent a similar loss is a big deal. It can be profoundly healing to be amidst those who have had similar experiences. Dr. Noelle Rodriguez, Jenny Werber, and Nick Riefner were among the staff that were there. I had the opportunity to speak to Dr. Noelle Rodriguez and Jenny Werber, and they were gracious enough to share their experiences with us:
“I’m so glad I participated in this 5k. I am recently grieving the loss of my dear friend who was 38, married, a father and a firefighter. He, like so many others, did not ask for help nor did he show obvious signs he was in despair.
Being a part of this while I am grieving was powerful, moving and profound. Many of the participants had a sign that read “In Memory Of” pinned to their shirts with the names of their loved ones–so many young lives gone, and gone way too soon. We were together in solidarity. We were sharing our sadness but in no way loving the person less for how they departed. We were simply showing others there may be hope for them.
I was struck by a team that wore matching shirts that read H.O.P.E., which stood for Hold on Pain Ends. I thought about so many who have given up maybe much to soon before they realized there was a solution. We are all affected by suicide, a topic no one talks about and when they do it’s treated like the plague. I felt a sense of compassion and acceptance like I never have before. I am not angry for the loss of my friend; just sad he would not reach out for help.
While we may never stop people from committing suicide, talking about it will hopefully help someone else who may be thinking it’s their only option.
I love Marcello, I always will.”
“It was personal to me, as my cousin Matt committed suicide 12 years ago at the age of 26. My Aunt and cousin (my late cousin’s mom and brother) walk each year in honor of Matt and in support of suicide prevention. I did not know they participated in this event until this year, and a team was formed in memory of Matt, where family and friends surprised my Aunt and cousin at the race’s starting line the morning of the race. It was a pleasure and honor to walk with them to honor Matt and support them.
I created a team for Visions staff and clients to join and participate to honor those they may have lost. Being there with my family and also with my Visions family was extremely touching. While you wish there was never a reason for any of us to be at such an event, I believe it is the hope for all of us there that our contributions aid to awareness and prevention for someone else and their family.”
This event was a wonderful way to close out Suicide Awareness Month. However, this doesn’t mean we stop talking about suicide prevention and awareness. We can always raise awareness about suicide prevention and make concerted efforts to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health.