When North Bergen residents, Jeannette Sanchez and mother Maria Sanchez experienced the heart breaking event of losing their loved one to suicide, they decided it would not go in vain.
“My brother died to suicide on March 12, 2012. Like many families out there we didn't recognize the signs of depression and mental health issues,” says Jeannette Sanchez.
For the last two years Maria and Jeannette teamed up with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to host ‘NB Out of the Darkness’ community walk that drew close to 400 people from the community and raised $27,000. The walk is held in memory of those who lost their lives to suicide. Funds come from groups of people or "teams" that walk in memory those impacted. The Sanchez family walks as "Team Carpe Diem" in honor of the late Jorge A. Sanchez.
“Community walks are proof that when people work together, they can make big changes in our world,” says Maria Sanchez, co-coordinator of the walk.
“When we were faced with the traumatic loss of my brother we were desperately looking for a group or people that could help us go through the process of grieving and explaining this complex situation to my youngest brother which was 10 years old at the time of [my brother’s] death. That's when we noticed that what we were looking for wasn't necessarily offered within our community,” says Jeanette Sanchez.
The Sanchez family hopes to encourage others to volunteer to host support groups for those dealing with suicidal thoughts. Resources for bereaved families and friends to sit together, share stories, and seek guidance are said to be scarce.
“We hope that we can save a life by creating a space where people do not feel alone and can access the necessary resources if they are in need of help. We also think it's important for families that have experienced these traumatic losses to see that they are not alone,” says Jeanette.
This year’s 3rd annual “North Bergen Out of the Darkness Walk” will be held on September 17th at James J. Braddock Park. Participants will meet at the Ascolese football field at 12:00 PM.
“It feels amazing to work side by side not only with each other but with our family and friends that help us pull off this event. This event would not be possible without the help of the town of North Bergen, sponsors, and the families that come out each year,” says mother and daughter.
Those who want to volunteer may contact Maria Sanchez 201-978-1115 or firstname.lastname@example.org