|Doing Good Together Newsletter|
Jenny Friedman, Executive Director
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Photo: The Kid's Guide to Social Action
"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lots of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
~ Robert F. Kennedy
It may be surprising to know that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among adults ages 18 to 65. Kerry Bunkers learned of the pain and devastation behind those numbers nearly 13 years ago when her own father died from suicide. This past year, her family-husband Mike and children Justin (14) and Luke (12)-have taken an active role in educating their fellow Minnesotans about suicide through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
As the Bunkers can readily tell you, suicide has become one of the most serious health problems in the United States today. One attempt is made every minute, and one person dies by suicide every 16 minutes-totaling 31,000 lives lost per year.
This year, the Bunkers family took on the job of coordinating the annual Twin Cities' "Out of Darkness Walk" for the AFSP. Before the event, this included publicity, registering walkers, preparing "light of hope" votive candle mementos, and soliciting contributions through their own donor website pages. During the event itself, Mike and the boys set up the walk path, plus helped Kerry with on-site registrations and myriad last-minute details. Kerry conducted a Stone Ceremony following the walk, designed to help participants recognize the importance of detaching stigmas from discussions about suicide.
For individuals grappling with suicide's effects in their own lives, the three-mile walk at Lake Como Park represented a healing opportunity, as well as an occasion to educate the greater community about suicide. Through increased awareness (and funds from the walk), the Bunkers family and other local empathizers hope to establish local chapters of AFSP to provide support and education for those in need.
What should the public understand about suicide? "It is a health problem which takes an enormous toll on families, friends, coworkers and the entire community," Kerry says. She is particularly conscious of studies showing that, as she puts it, "suicide appears through successive family generations." She hopes the family's involvement with AFSP carries a message to her children. "We want our kids to know that this community is comprised of caring people who want to help those in distress."
To learn more about local AFSP initiatives, visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website.
Photo: Kerry Bunkers with her sons, Justin (14) and Luke (12)
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