Three years ago, Emma von Euler committed suicide. The death of the talented Fairfield Ludlowe High School musician devastated her friends and family.
In Emma’s honor, her father Peter — a Westport elementary school teacher — and mother Nancy participate each year in the Out of the Darkness Walk. This year’s event — which raises awareness and funds for suicide prevention and research — takes place at Sherwood Island State Park on Saturday, October 27 (1 p.m.).
After Emma’s death, Nancy started a blog. Recently, she wrote:
This past spring, inspired by a support group conversation the night before, I was reflecting on how my experience with suicide loss had changed over the last year.
One notable change was that people I knew had begun reaching out to me as a resource when suicide touched their own lives. In my relatively small circle of friends and acquaintances, 7 people had lost someone to suicide in less than a year. I found that stunning.
So when I reflect on what I have learned on my journey this past year, an important lessons is this: Suicide is not just a personal tragedy, it is a national tragedy. Each year more than 35,000 people in the U.S. die by suicide. In the wake of these losses, hundreds of thousands of friends and family members are left to make sense of their loss and put their lives back together again. When you add up the price of all this devastation — years of productive life lost, wages lost, health and mental health care costs — you realize the cost of suicide is enormous.
I have also learned this: As a nation, we will never inspire the response necessary to address this tragedy if we depend on the survivors of suicide loss to wage that war. As survivors, we have the will and resolve to bring change and find answers; to help others win a battle that, sadly, we have lost.
But we are walking wounded. We can’t do this alone.
If we are going to wage war against suicide we need allies in our schools, our healthcare institutions, our workplaces, our communities, and in government. We must strengthen our national resolve to give the issue of suicide the time, attention and resources necessary to find answers and develop responses.
One of the ways I have become involved in the war against suicide is by participating in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Southern CT Chapter’s annual Out of the Darkness Walk. We were inspired to participate in our first walk by a friend of Emma’s who found out about the walk and formed a team just weeks after Emma’s death. We have participated ever since, and been heartened to see the growth in community support and awareness that the walk has helped to create. It is truly bringing suicide out of the darkness.
This year’s walk will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 27, at Sherwood Island State Park. I hope you will consider becoming an ally in the war against suicide by joining or supporting Team Emma. The walk is as much about building awareness as it is about fundraising, so your presence is truly valued as much as any monetary presents. Three years down this difficult road of suicide survival, I believe more than ever that the first step to finding an answer is shining a light on the problem.
I hope you’ll join us at the walk and help us do just that.
(To register for the walk — or make a donation in Emma von Euler’s name — click here.)