Leaving darkness behind

Families walk to raise suicide awareness

Krystle Duffy went to the annual Out of the Darkness suicide prevention walk and fundraiser in Secaucus two weekends ago to honor her brother Tommy Duffy, 21, who died from suicide in March 2014. She came with a team of 16 family members and friends to donate to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, and they all wore “Team Tommy Jr.” shirts. This year’s local walk took place in Mill Creek Park on Saturday, Sept. 10.
The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is a non-profit organization that brings hope to those affected by suicide and raises funds for suicide presentation. They train people who answer suicide phone calls, and more. So far this year, groups and individuals in Secaucus have raised $26,933 for the group. The goal is to raise $43,000 in town, and AFSP is taking donations online until Dec. 31.

“This is a great cause, and it’s something I definitely come to every year.” — Rosie Pichardo.
Previous resident Rosie Pichardo attended the walk for the third time since she lost her son Stephen, 18, in 2011. She now lives in Clifton, and started Team Stephen’s Wings for all family members who go to the walk.
“This is a great cause, and it’s something I definitely come to every year,” Pichardo said. “Four family members came with me today, but I usually have 12.”
Her son passed while attending Secaucus High School. Afterward, the family was looking for relief, and Pichardo found out about the walk through one of the high school teachers.
Residents of Fair Lawn Leeanne and Bill Parker came with family and friends to walk in memory of their son Will Parker who took his life this past March. “This is a great cause, and we need more people to get involved,” Leeanne said at the walk. “We wouldn’t want this situation to happen to anyone.” The couple brought their Doberman pinscher puppy and 22 family members and friends.
“My daughter Heather and her husband Andrew came, aunts and uncles, and friends came out today,” Bill said.
Members of the Secaucus Coalition for a Healthy and Drug Free Community came to support the cause also. The coalition is a volunteer and staff-run organization to raise awareness and reduce the negative impacts of alcohol and prescription drug abuse in Secaucus.
One of the volunteers, Rashmee Shenvi, said, “Members of our group are all residents of Secaucus, and we care about this cause. One of our goals is to educate the public about prescription drug abuse, but talking about suicide is something we are continuing to support as well, and we want to spread this support.”

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