As I was scrolling through responses to the Facebook announcement of the Bluebird Run and Walk for Brookie B, I noticed a few comments about the fact that this event occurs early in the morning on Labor Day.
The responses were of the “seriously, on a holiday when we could sleep in?” nature.
We will have to get up and get ourselves to the Alford Greenway at a relatively early time on Monday, September 7 (a/k/a Labor Day) BUT when you really think about it, making an extra effort on a holiday is the perfect choice.
Responding to people in our lives who are contemplating suicide demands us to make an extra effort, just like getting up on Labor Day morning rather than catching a few more winks does. In this Tallahassee Democrat article, the Bowers family explains why they decided to host a run in Brook’s memory, as well as the origins of the “bluebird” theme.
Mary Bowers’s “My View”: Friends, Family of Those Who Die by Suicide Are at Risk spoke of the need for postvention. As I read Mary’s piece about the devastating loss of her daughter Brook to suicide and the fact that there were very few resources available to her after Brook’s death, I could fully relate to her sense of rudderlessness.
As the Bowers family notes, crafting a plan and marshaling resources to provide postvention services requires a LOT of extra effort.
This event’s goal is to ignite a coordinated postvention program to support the bereaved, prevent further suicides and counteract the other negative effects of exposure to suicide. The Tallahassee Affiliate of National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) is leading the way, and it is going to take a combination of awareness and funding.
Suicide and Our Family
When my brother-in-law Chuck committed suicide in 2008, each of us in the family (as well as his friends) struggled to come to terms with the grief which always comes when a loved one is lost and all of the additional “what if’s,” “what else could I have done?’s,” and the emotional chasm which seemed impossible to bridge. (My niece Kris’s speech on being a family survivor here.)
It is this personal experience of suicide within a family which compels me to participate on September 7. I hope you will join me.
Here are the details!
WHAT: The Bluebird Run and Walk for Brookie B Website: www.bluebirdrun.com
WHEN: Monday, Sept 7! 5K Run/Walk at 7:30 am, 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk at 8:30 am
(Pre-race packet pickup will be Friday, 9/4, at Capital City Runners 3:30-7)
WHERE: JR Alford Greenway (details here)
COST: 5K is $20 with tshirt, 15 without. One mile is $10 with tshirt, FREE! without
Proceeds go to NAMI Tallahassee, to be used to fund training of local resources in postvention techniques.
If you are “in,” tweet this and let me know!
I’m getting up early on #LaborDay to do the @bluebirdrun with @biggreenpen! Join me? www.bluebirdrun.com! #SuicideAwareness TWEET THIS
(If you want to be on a team, you are welcome to join Team RWB Tallahassee, whether or not you are a Team RWB Member! Look for Team Red White and Blue(bird) or register through this link.)
Several organizations deserve recognition for sponsoring this event, including Founder Level Sponsors The Apalachee Center, Capital Regional Medical Center, Liebenhaut Law, Tallahassee Democrat, and Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare. Please visit this link for the full sponsor list, and thank these businesses for their support when you have the opportunity.
I wish Chuck would come strolling into a family gathering again, decked out in his John Lennon tshirt and changing up the dynamic of a room the way he always did. I wish he would shatter people’s usual assumptions about him (hippie, uninformed, oddball) by sharing one of his astute observations on politics and the world. I wish I had not had to see my in-laws’ faces when we told them he had killed himself. I wish his grandson Griffin had gotten the opportunity to be held by him, even once. It is those unfulfilled wishes (among others) which make me passionate about this cause, and I hope to see you the morning of September 7.
NOTE: If you truly can’t stand the thought of getting up early on September 7, or if for other reasons you are unable to join us, you can support the cause by purchasing a tshirt or making a donation via this link.
Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many. My pronouns are she/her/hers.
Nancy O'Farrell says
Thank you, Paula. These stories are so difficult to share. But what a loving memory of Chuck! Beautifully articulated, as always.
Paula Kiger says
Thank you, Nancy (and I appreciate you inviting me to be a part of it via blogging about it!).
You’re doing an amazing amazing service with this post.
POSTvention so so matters.
Paula Kiger (Big Green Pen) says
Thank you – I really admire Brook’s family for taking such specific action to make it happen.
Rena McDaniel says
What a terrific cause! September 10th is worldwide suicide prevention day so this is perfect timing. I lost a very close friend a couple of years ago and those feelings of guilty and anger are still unresolved. It is such an important topic.
Paula Kiger (Big Green Pen) says
It is an important topic, Rena. Thank you for commenting and for your support. I am sorry to hear about your friend.