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Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

Organization gears up for events in October

Group seeks to raise suicide awareness

By William Kincaid

A crowd turned out at the Mercer County Fairgrounds for last year's Out of the D. . .

Local suicide prevention advocates are gearing up to help with events this month aimed at increasing awareness of suicide and raising funds for local and national initiatives.
The Out of the Darkness community walk will be held from 8 a.m.-noon Oct. 21 at the Mercer County Fairgrounds in Celina. Many of the walks are hosted across the country by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This will be the second such walk in Mercer County.
Last year, an estimated 250 walkers took part, bringing in close to $16,000, more than three times the $5,000 goal. The participants on the warm autumn morning walked around the marked half-mile course at the fairgrounds, some wearing T-shirts memorializing family members.
"Last year my sister-in-law (Margie Griesdorn) and I were co-chairs of the Out of Darkness walk," said Carol Griesdorn, a social worker and a suicide loss survivor. "That money goes to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention."
AFSP, according to its website, is "a voluntary health organization that gives those affected by suicide a nationwide community empowered by research, education and advocacy to take action against this leading cause of death."
Those interested in participating can contact Margie Griesdorn at 419-852-3312 or by email at rlmcg@hometowncable.net.
"They can walk. They can just pledge if they want to and not walk, and they can get teams and take pledges," she said.
The walk helps spread the word about suicide and "keeps people talking about it," Carol Griesdorn said.
"I know our family found that once we were putting the Out of the Darkness walk together last year, just us talking about it allowed people to have permission to talk about (suicide), and we had many people come say, 'Oh, I know somebody that lost somebody.' "
The Mercer County Prevention Coalition, dedicated to preventing substance abuse and suicide, will host its first 5K walk/run at 10 a.m. Oct. 28, also at the Mercer County Fairgrounds.
Funds will go to the coalition and stay within Mercer County, according to Amy Miller, a Foundations Behavioral Health Service prevention specialist and coalition marketing and communication director.
Participants are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite superheroes.
For information, call Miller at 419-584-1000 or email mercercountyprevention@gmail.com.
MCPC has also recently launched a "Let's Talk" campaign, which encourages parents and other adults who have children in their lives to open up to their kids and to listen when their children open up to them. Issues broached include alcohol, drugs and suicide.
Being cognizant of a child's behavior, interests and activities is important so parents can recognize warning signs of suicide, Miller said.
"If your youth used to be really vibrant and outgoing with playing sports and now all of a sudden they're not and they're hiding in their room or they've turned to alcohol ... to know the signs ... knowing your youth enough to know those signs," Miller said.
MCPC also facilitates support groups for those dealing with depression, anxiety, trauma and other struggles as well as peer-led groups devoted to people who have lost others to suicide.
"So maybe you're not ready to call Foundations yet but you want to talk to somebody, there's a peer facility support group," MCPC member Jessica Muhlenkamp said.
Carol Griesdorn heads up a group of survivors who lost someone to suicide.
"My support group is an open group that meets at Holy Trinity Church (in Coldwater). However, it's not anything to do with any type of religion," Carol Griesdorn said. "People can come and go as they feel like it. We talk about all different kinds of stuff. I really look to, in the next couple of months, be talking about the holidays. Holidays are tough."
Muhlenkamp said the group is blessed to have Carol Griesdorn available to guide the support group.
"She lost someone she had spent her whole life with and so that idea, to be able to send them to someone who really understands that kind of grief, I think is really powerful," Muhlenkamp said.
What is often overlooked is the guilt felt by those whose family members have died by suicide, Miller noted.
"You can answer (why) for an accident. You can answer why for cancer. You can't answer why, a lot of time, for suicide," Miller said.
Carole Griesdorn agreed.
"I must say that grieving the death of a suicide, it's different than grieving the death of somebody that's died naturally," she said. "It's the unknown. It's the not knowing why. So it's just a whole different type of grief that you have to deal with. And you have to take care of yourself."
Carol Griesdorn also stressed the importance of not saying a person "committed" suicide but rather "died by," "completed" or "attempted" suicide.
"Because my brother did not commit anything. He died by suicide just like he would have maybe died by cancer," she said. "And I do correct people when they say that to me."
For more information about MCPC support groups, visit https://www.facebook.com/MercerCountyDrugPrevention/, call 419-584-1000 or email questions or concerns to mercercountyprevention@gmail.com.
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