Editor’s note: GazeboNews.com was a sponsor of the 2012 Chicagoland Out Of The Darkness Walk, an event of the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention.
The walk was held on a beautiful fall day at Independence Grove in Libertyville
By Adrienne Fawcett
Approximately 3,000 people came out for the Chicagoland Out of the Darkness Walk —a 20% increase from last year and the largest event in the history of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Lake Forest High School was well represented by participants from CROYA, SADD, the girls Swim & Dive team and faculty. A group of 25 LFHS teachers, counselors and community members called “For The Boys” raised more than $12,000 (the second-highest amount raised for the event) and walked in honor of the LFHS students who committed suicide earlier in 2012.
“It’s for the boys but also for the girls as many of us have lost girls to suicide as well,” said LFHS college counselor Jacquie Berkshire, who walked in memory of 16 young people.
The LFHS teachers and counselors wore lilac T-shirts that said “For The Boys” on the front; on the back, many of them wrote the names of students, family and friends they’ve lost to suicide. Students wore royal blue T-shirts that said “LFHS Shines The Light” on the front and “Students Aware & DeDicated” on the back (SADD).
A poignant speech by baseball legend Tommy John preceded the walk. Mr. John, a former Major League pitcher, was there in honor of his son, Taylor, who died in 2010. Taylor lived in Libertyville and had many connections to Lake Forest and Lake Bluff: He was a teacher’s assistant at Deer Path Middle School in Lake Forest, worked with kids during the summers at Lake Bluff Park District, and sang at two local churches, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and The Church of the Holy Spirit, according to a 2010 article in the Chicago Tribune.
At Saturday’s Chicagoland Out of the Darkness Walk, Tommy John told the crowd that his son had been on six medications, each one to counteract the effects of last one. “Each one had a risk of suicide, and he was suicidal to begin with,” he said.
Tommy also said that his employer offered to give him a lighter load after Taylor’s death, but that was the very opposite of what he wanted. He wanted to stay busy. He also learned that he wanted to talk openly, and often, because he said talking about Taylor and about suicide has been cathartic.
At the end of his moving speech, Tommy said: “I wish I could wave a magic wand and get rid of suicide. I can’t do that. But by participating in this walk, we can.”
The Chicagoland Out of the Darkness Walk was held at Independence Grove in Libertyville on Sept. 29 and raised more than $440,000, surpassing the goal of $390,000. If you would like to donate, please click here.
The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention is a national non-profit organization dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy. Please visit the AFSP website for more information and resources.