Hundreds walk in Raleigh to honor those lost to suicide

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Hundreds of people came together on Sunday to honor those lost to suicide in our community.

 The event was the 7th annual Survivors Walk.

“In 1992, my 20-year-old son took his life by suicide and my world’s changed,” said organizer Larry “Bernie” Bernstein.

Bernstein will forever cherish the memories of his son Michael.

“He was a unique, warm-hearted individual and I miss him until I’m no longer on this earth,” he said.

In his son’s honor, Bernstein leads the help group ‘Triangle Survivors of Suicide.’

On Sunday, about 350 people came to their annual Survivors Walk. Many were there to honor lives lost.

“Priya was very precious to us. She still is, so sharing her story and helping others and saving others is healing to me. It’s very important to me,” said Geetha Balagopal whose daughter died by suicide.

“My brother was a phenomenal human being and I’m so sad he’s gone and I miss him very, very much,” said Karen Peloquin whose brother was lost to suicide.

Some say their loved ones were open with their struggles while others had no idea.

“It was sudden,” said Peloquin. “We were not, my parents and I, we had no idea that he was suicidal or depressed, so it definitely rocked us to the core and I felt very isolated and lonely.”

According to the CDC, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. Approximately 123 Americans die by suicide each day. Reports say about a quarter of Americans 18 and older are affected by depression.

“People with mental illness are not labels. They’re human beings,” said Balagopal.

The group is pushing for more mental health awareness.

“This is the end result of not getting good mental health treatment, so part of it is talking about it,” said Bernstein.

Along with awareness, they say there’s a need for kindness because you never know who’s suffering.

“They’re wonderful human beings and they just couldn’t feel the love, so the more I think we can give love to others and let everybody know they’re very loved and we’re here for them,” said Peloquin.

All funds raised at the event went to suicide prevention and mental health.

If you or someone you know is dealing with suicidal thoughts, you can call 1-800-273-8255.

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