September 2010
 Indianapolis 2009 OOTD walk

Breaking the Silence
Indiana Newsletter

 Out of the Darkness

Song written, produced and performed  by Beau & Amber Brown (Indiana Survivors)
~ Thank you!
Dear Indiana AFSP Supporter 
 
Walk season begins this weekend, September 11th in Indianapolis and September 12th in Chesterton. 
Please register online at: www.outofthedarkness.org  
We also have 3 additional walks in September, Fowler (Benton County) on September 19th, and Richmond & Munster on September 25th.  We hope to see you at the Out of the Darkness Walk nearest you.  Please be sure to stop by the Chapter table to pick up resources materials for yourself or a friend, find out how you can get involved in education and awareness efforts in your community, and add your signature to a petition to advocate for legislative change~ Let your voice be heard!
 
Within this newsletter, we have chosen to highlight the survivor stories of 2 of our AFSP volunteers, these ladies are so special and we hope that you have the opportunity to meet them at the Indianapolis walk.  Amy Pauszek (Indianapolis Out of the Darkness Walk Committee) & Lisa Davis (Survivor Support Committee Chair and Lifekeeper Quilt Coordinator)
Survivor Spotlight-  Amy Pauszek
 
Lucy and Ethel or The Lone Ranger and Tonto, never mind the gender...the common denominator is simple: 100% True Friendship. Funny how in life we all can relate to side kicks. My 'side kick' happened to be my best friend Joe Griffith : aka "Superman Joey". Joe was my very best friend in the whole world. I don't even think our family and friends really understood just how much time we spent together. We could hang out all day and night ... return home and still talk for endless hours on the phone till the wee hours of the morning. Joe was my confident,my partner in crime, my side kick Superhero. I knew no matter what circumstance he would be there for me. He was funny,caring, and so full of life. Joe was a devoted son,brother, and friend who volunteered in the community. We shared the love of film,art, and cooking together. He had this gap between his teeth that always bothered him greatly, but to me- it was the one thing that set him apart. It brought out his radiant smile and warm deep brown eyes. He had good morals, strong character, and loved God. When he smiled you could feel his heart full of joy and love. We laughed ,cried , and did just about everything together until I got the call one night that would change my life forever. The phone call that ended up making me a stronger woman in the fight for suicide prevention and awareness.

I was supposed to go walking with Joe hours before he took his life. He left me a voice mail asking to do dinner later instead of a walk. I often wonder what if I would of been there to intercept that call - would our conversation at that dinner or on that initial walk made a difference? Why or how did I (his best friend) not see any signs of depression or anxiety? What did I do wrong? Was it my fault? It has been 3 years since Joe's death - I still find myself asking these questions at times but know I will never have an anwser. I also know I had no control of Joe's actions. I know survivors of suicide must face and ask these same questions.  I can understand that deep pit in their stomach the moment when they hear their loved one is no longer with them. It is in that moment of silence and emptiness we die a little inside ourselves too. We feel empty ... our loved one  and "sidekick" is gone, forever gone and it is a very lonely feeling that attacks our entire body.  After Joe's death I found a letter I had never read before that he wrote to me. I found it one day in a stack of my favorite dvd's we had been going through before his death and knew it was his way of telling me he loved me, he was with God...and he was okay. People often told us we were like Superman and Wonder Woman - attatched hip to hip trying to make a difference somehow with or without capes in the community. Whenever I was working on a charity event, I could always count on Joe being my number one supporter. He would participate in walks or help me get wonderful donations. I knew after reading the letter, there were many Superman Joey's out there in the world who brought joy and love to their friends and family. After Joe's death I realized my own friends became distant and the stigma of Joe's suicide was a major part of the battle. I registered for my first Out Of The Darkness Walk and realized there were other survivors who understood exactly what I had been going through. A core group of Joe's friends walked the first year. It was just what we all needed to get through his tragic death. It opened my eyes to be stronger and understand more the importance of suicide awareness and prevention. Unfortunately, the following year I could not find anyone to walk with me. Friends and family members simply just could not make it. I was stunned and a bit numb. Why wouldn't anyone take time out to walk for someone who showed so much love to them..or just walk in support for such a huge loss? I heard friends were still angry at Joe and some were ashamed to be associated with suicide. Could it really be because of the stigma associated with suicide? I decided to volunteer and run the merchandise booth that year even if it meant going by myself. I felt so alone that day. I pretty much knew no one, had a huge pit in my stomach, and was missing my best friend terribly. I remember I walked up to the registration tent and was greeted with much love and support from other volunteers and staff. I knew then I was right where God wanted me to be. They say God works in mysterious ways - well he does. I was working the merchandising booth when a survivor came up to me to ask if I had seen the Superman and Wonder Woman?  I had no idea what they were talking about and all of a sudden in the middle of a crowd of hundreds I see a red cape flying in the wind. I think to myself - "Out of ALL of the Superheroes ...My Superman Joey is here at this walk  - Unbelieveable!" I made my way to the people who were dressed in the superhero costumes and explained my situation. Within minutes the man dressed as Superman immediately grabbed and hugged me as he shouted he was walking in honor of Supermen Joey today! Was this real? Was this a sign?  It was then at that very moment when I felt that Joe was there in spirit. I was not alone anymore.That feeling of spirit was spread all around the walk that day and it was as if I could feel other survivors celebrating their own loved ones too. Their loved ones may not have been there physically but they were living within us each in our own special ways. In every word, in every song, in everything God creates... their spirits live on. I ended up not being alone that year after all, it was then that I wanted to make sure no one should have to ever walk alone. This year I am very proud to be a committee member of the walk .Our local AFSP Indiana Chapter is also going to have volunteers as ambassadors at The Out Of The Darkness Walk for those who may not have anyone to walk with. I never imagined I would be so passionate and such an advocate for a cause that still has such a strong fight and stigma. I am not a Wonder Woman or a superhero by any means nor was Joe. We were just two best friends, two side kicks who will always have a forever bond and now a message. The message is simple - we all need to keep educating. AFSP has paved the way for us all to speak openly and honestly about suicide prevention and awareness. I lost my best friend, my side kick , my own Superhero to this horrible illness. I never saw the signs. I never dreamed this would happen to me. Most importantly, I never thought this would of happened to Joe. I miss his touch, I miss his voice, I miss that silly gap between his teeth that made his smile so bright.  The message is simple: The more we educate others - the more we will continue to make a difference. We must remember that every walk does matter ...every  voice does speak volumes ...and every minute counts.   

Joe Griffith & Amy Pauszek
 
"There Is A Little Bit Of Superhero In All Of Us" ~
Joe Griffith 06/30/70 - 10/30/07 
Survivor Spotlight - Lisa Davis
 

What comes to mind when you think of the month of September? Labor Day, a new school year, football, fall is on its way. I was like most people until my life was changed by the earth shaking news of the death of my son, Steven.  At the age of 17, he was just beginning his senior year in high school. Unfortunately, Steven could not imagine living another day. It is eight years this month and the pain subsides but the memory of that day creeps back up on me this time of year. I suppose it will always be this way and that is okay, since I now know where this tremendous pain comes from. Losing a loved one really shakes you to the core. You evaluate everything in your life.  What is important and what is trivial.

 

Steven was a precocious, stubborn and very intelligent child.  During his teen years, there was so much more to him than I could even imagine.  As a mother you always think you can fix everything for your children. After dealing with depression, drugs and alcohol, an inpatient hospital stay, a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder, medications, no medications, therapy and all of the other everyday teen related ups and downs, I could no longer help my son, and he made his final decision. Of course I thought I would not make it out of the darkness I was now cast into.  How do you get out of bed each and every day? How do you care and love for those still with you? Will anyone remember him?

 

I wanted answers and I wanted them now. I started reading about depression, bi-polar disorder and suicide and started attending a support group within the first month of Steven's death. I remember first counting the days, then the weeks, then the months and lastly the years. I can't bring my son back to this earth and I will never have all the answers but I can honor his life and all he went through with his illness by helping others.

 

During the second year of my journey I began to host a site for the National Survivors of Suicide Day sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). To celebrate and honor Steven's 20th birthday I participated in the Out of the Darkness Walk in Chicago. I found both of these to be very healing for me. As a survivor of suicide, I feel compelled to reach out to those who are dealing with this complicated grief. When someone tells me of their loss, my heart breaks and I remember the debilitating pain I felt during those first weeks and months. I remain active in the area of Survivor Support for AFSP and will continue until there is no longer a need for this type of support.

Prayerfully with education, research and the continuing efforts of the entire community this may happen one day.

 

Steven left us with his last words and I would like to share them with you.

"The future is in your eyes.  Because all you see is light"

I am not sure what his intentions were with these words and this will always be one of those unanswered questions.  I believe the future is ours and we can make it a better place for those suffering from depression and other mental disorders if we bring suicide out of the darkness and into the light. 

Quick Links
 

National Suicide Prevention Week September 5th-11th

This is a song dedication for National suicide prevention week:

by Rascal Flatts
Local Resident Turns Loss Into Action
 
Press Release/ Indystar.com
Lisa Brattain lost her son 19-year-old son Kurt to suicide in December 2006. Today she channels the pain of her loss towards advocating for suicide prevention by volunteering for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Field Advocate Program.

As a Field Advocate, Brattain traveled to Washington D.C. in March as part of a National Legislative Day on suicide prevention where she had meetings at the offices of several Indiana delegation members, including Rep. Dan Burton. Rep. Burton has been leading the bipartisan effort to change the current White House policy of not sending condolence letters to military families bereaved by suicide. In May, Brattain contacted 3,000 supporters and encouraged them to call their congressmen in support of The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act. And in February 2011, she is recruiting volunteers for a visit to the state capital to meet with representatives about statewide prevention initiatives. She also serves as the volunteer Chair of the Indiana Chapter for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which she helped create.

"Kurt struggled with depression for several years, but I would never want his life to be defined by his death or the illness that caused it. Instead, I honor his life by doing everything I can to help prevent another person from losing someone they love to suicide," said Brattain. "Advocacy is a vital component for changing the way we view depression and suicide as a community and a country. Without Advocacy, we will not see change at the legislative level, nor will we see policies that promote mental well being."

Increasing public and private funding for research is one of Brattain's main goals. "We will not see improvements in the detection and treatment of depressive illnesses, nor will we see the educational materials and programs needed to equip us to prevent suicide without better scientific understanding," Brattain continued. Advocacy efforts can help to encourage increased funding for more research. Advocacy and research are equally important, and it will take all our voices joined together to make a difference she said.

The Field Advocate Program is a network of volunteers who are advocating for policies and legislation to prevent suicide on the national, state and local levels. This includes pursuing a range of suicide prevention legislative initiatives to reduce suicide, encouraging more public funding for scientific research, increasing public awareness of suicide, and building partnerships with other local suicide prevention organizations and mental health agencies.

"By connecting with their community leaders and elected officials, advocates like Lisa Brattain, are at the forefront for creating the social and political change needed to address this public health problem," said Robert Gebbia, executive director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. "It is our goal to have at least two field advocates in every congressional district in the U.S. and make suicide prevention a national priority."

Those interested in becoming a field advocate can visit www.afsp.org or www.spanusa.org. Another way to get involved suicide prevention is by participating in the upcoming Out of the Darkness Community Walk in Indianapolis on Sept. 11. You can register or learn more at www.outofthedarkness.org.

Wylie Tene is PR Manager for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
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Honor Beads/ visit the Chapter table
Be sure that you stop by  
the Chapter table for "honor beads"
 
White Beads :  Lost a Child
 
Red Beads:  Lost a Spouse  or Partner
 
Gold Beads:  Lost a Parent
 
Orange Beads: Lost a Sibling
 
Purple Beads:  Lost a relative or friend
 
Green Beads: Struggle Personally with a Depressive Illness
 
Blue Beads:  Support the Cause
TWLOHA
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
To Write Love On Her Arms
 
Don't forget to stop by the TWLOHA tables at the Indianapolis walk, the Richmond walk, and the Bloomington walk.  We are excited and honored to have them joining us this year! 
 
They will have a table with Materials, and TWLOHA merchandise for sale. 
 
Bring your Sharpies!
 
"THANK YOU" TWLOHA for coming to Indiana to support the Out of the Darkness Walks!
 
www.twloha.com

Love is the Movement

nwi.com
4 Stories recently published by   
NWI.com recently covering several stories about survivors :

A mother's grief (Video)

Nancy Rodgers talks about the suicide death of her eldest son, Johnny Laskowski.

Nancy Rodgers (Northwest Indiana Walk Coordinator)- Munster  Nancy Rodgers

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Lake County Teen talks about surviving suicide attempt
 
 
The petite 17-year-old said she had been feeling depressed about her brother's suicide and frustrated about being grounded when in late February, she decided to take a potentially lethal dose of Tylenol.

"I sent my friends some texts and said, 'I'm sorry,'" she said.

A friend responded by contacting the Lake County girl's cousin, who in turn persuaded her to notify her mother and seek medical help.

"I got really scared to die," she said.

Suicide is the third-leading cause of death in this country among people between the ages of 15 and 24, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  "read on"  

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Karen Lawrence  
VALPARAISO | Karen Lawrence said while she did not recognize it at the time, her older brother, Ken Stratton, displayed many of the classic signs of an impending suicide.

He had stopped taking his antidepressant medication and twice attempted to take his life before following through by hanging himself Oct. 6, 2006.

Just months away from his 45th birthday, Stratton was about to join an emerging group of 45- to 54-year-olds who are at particularly high risk for suicide nationally, according to information provided by Steve Butera, a member of the Northwest Indiana Suicide Prevention Council.

The group at the highest risk in this country are white men 80 years or older, Butera said. The suicide rate among this group is six times the overall rate and three times as high as black men the same age, Butera said.   "read on"

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Britta Neinast

Helping others get through the pain

VALPARAISO | Britta Neinast said, looking back, there were red flags her father was in trouble.

Just a couple of weeks before ending a long career in construction and after going through the painful loss of his mother, 61-year-old Ronnie White lost interest in his love of hunting, began speaking unintelligibly and would walk into a room and look right past anyone there, she said.

"It was like he was in another world," Neinast said.

On Dec. 7, 2005, he placed a chair in the front yard of his home in Palm Beach County, Fla., and returned to it the following Saturday to kill himself with a shotgun.

Neinast, who had moved to Valparaiso just six months earlier, said she was shocked by the news, but not totally surprised.

Her daughter, who was 9 at the time, at first refused to believe her grandfather took his own life. It was two years before she accepted the fact.  "read on"

Walk highlights
 
 
Indianapolis: Starbucks will be present serving coffee during registration, so come out early, get some coffee and visit some of the vendor tables before and after opening ceremony.  There will be live music and the Ben Davis High School Radio Station and students will be broadcasting live from the event.  There will be lots of opportunities to find resources, and meet other survivors and people looking for community and support~ Let us be there for each other!

Chesterton: Pre-registration check-in will start at 11am with day of registration beginning at 12pm.  The walk will begin after the balloon launch and blessing at 1pm.  
We will be offering hot dogs, chips, and soda for sale along with bracelets and beads. There will also be a silent auction, raffles, and a 50/50 drawing taking place.  Only those 18 years of age and older will be allowed to take part in these optional fundraising activities.  All of the funds raised through these activities will be included in the fundraising total. Music will also be provided throughout the day with free activities for the children and family including a bounce house.
We are grateful for your continued support of AFSP both locally and Nationally.  It is our hope that through the Out of the Darkness Community Walks, you will find a sense of community within a gathering of individuals that have experienced some of the same heartbreaks that you have.  We hope that you will also feel both empowered to help promote change and understanding, and encouraged to find your inner voice to Silence the Stigma within our communities.  We "the Survivors" are the key, our passion will be a driving force for research, education, awareness and policy change.  See you at the walk!
 
Sincerely,
 
Lisa Brattain - Chair
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Indiana Chapter

LBrattain4AFSP@aol.com
317-774-1377
www.AFSP.org

www.OutoftheDarkness.org

Silence the Stigma! Join us in our efforts to educate, raise awareness & support survivors of suicide loss
In the US, every 16 minutes someone dies by suicide. Every 17 minutes someone is left to make sense of it.