Beginning tomorrow, May 4, and continuing through the 10th is National Suicide Awareness Week. This week has a newfound significance because on October 13, 2005, I faced the worst moment of my life, when I found my boyfriend Alfred hanging by a rope in the bedroom of his apartment. In a moment of despair after a long, brave struggle with depression, he became one of the over 30,000 people in America last year who committed suicide.
Needless to say, the past almost-7 months have been quite a journey for me. But, I have slowly moved from dwelling on the past to focusing on the future, and I have learned that difficult times in life bring unexpected gifts that can enrich us and make us stronger.
One of the gifts I have received is an understanding and awareness of suicide and the devastation it causes to everyone it touches. And along with this is a desire to help those who are facing the same deep pain that Alfred found to be overwhelming, to let them know there is hope and they are not alone.
One of the greatest organizations working toward the understanding and prevention of suicide as well as support for those who lose a loved one to such an unimaginable event is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I recently read their 2005 Annual Report and was amazed and impressed at the depth and breadth of their research and progress in addressing the problem of suicide.
So, it is with excitement and full support of the AFSP that I decided to participate in their annual fundraising drive, the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk. It is a 20-mile walk from dusk to dawn through the cities of Chicago and San Francisco this summer. I love the symbolism of the overnight walk, which goal is both to raise funds for the AFSP and to help fight the social stigma of discussing suicide (bringing it "out of the darkness"). I will be doing the Chicago walk on August 12-13.
I know there are many good organizations out there asking for support for many causes. But if you feel challenged to do so, I would be grateful for anyone who would like to help me with my own fundraising efforts. My personal goal is to raise at least $2,000. Click on the picture above or this link to visit my personal fundraising page. Also, the various links on this post point to much more helpful information about the need and the organization. Thanks!