In May 2015, our 34-yr old daughter, Erin, lost her struggle with depression and took her life. Since Erin left us, my search for healing has forced me to think about suicide and the complicated, confusing darkness that mental illness creates. It has challenged me to think more deeply about ways to raise public awareness of suicide, to talk openly about my experience, and to let others know that suicide need not be the final answer.
Three years ago, I learned of a unique, nationwide fundraising event committed to fighting suicide and mental illness. "Climb for Life" participants were invited to challenge themselves physically with a hike of their choosing and to help raise donations to support suicide awareness and prevention activities. I was intrigued by the notion that the challenge of climbing a mountain is a metaphor for the struggles of those who daily experience the highs and lows of mental illness. "Climb for Life" instantly drew me in, and this year will be my fourth year doing what I can to fight the scourge of suicide.
On September 2, I will be joining with other members and friends of my Survivors of a Loved One's Suicide (SOLOS) support group to climb Vrooman's Nose, outside Middleburgh, NY. I hope to raise $2,500 as a member of our “SOLOS to the Top” team. All donations — in any amount — made in support my Climb for Life will go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and be used in bringing suicide prevention awareness programs into our communities.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in our latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.