It’s the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, with one person dying every 13 minutes. Many people don’t talk about suicide or the ways it has changed their lives or families. Whether they’re embarrassed or ashamed, or maybe they just don’t know how to start the conversation, suicide is not usually a topic of conversation. A group in Pensacola is changing that. They’re hosting a walk Saturday morning to spread awareness for suicide prevention.
“He had a really great sense of humor,” Heather Millican said of her brother Christopher. “He was my only sibling, my older brother, so he was very protective of me. I can remember him, telling boyfriends… Don’t mess with my sister!”
Christopher Wynn was a guardian to his sister Heather. A prankster, with a loving heart. A husband and a father. He was a Life Flight paramedic, and an EMT.
Heather knew her brother was struggling with depression and stress, but she didn’t know how bad it was.
“I knew those things about my brother but as far as thinking that he would… Take his pain so far, it was unexpected,” Millican said.
On August 12th, as Heather and her husband watched TV, a notification popped up on his cell phone. Shots fired in the Escambia County building on Palafox Street.
“My husband had read the text aloud to me and I just initially, my heart sank,” Millican said. “I just had this overwhelming sense that something’s happened to my brother.”
Heather Millican lost her brother, Christopher, to suicide. In the weeks and months that followed, friends and family members reached out with calls, texts, and emails of their own experience with suicide.
“I think it’s great that people are coming forward and sharing, especially this walk,” Millican explained. “It gives people hope and comfort.”
The first annual Out of the Darkness walk in Pensacola is Saturday morning. In total, Pensacola has raised $40,000 for suicide awareness and prevention. Heather’s message now to people who may be struggling is one of comfort and understanding.
“It’s ok to be brave and start conversations with people and allow yourself to be vulnerable and talk about pain because your pain can help others,” she said.
They’re working to end the stigma and bring suicide awareness out of the darkness.
The walk in downtown Pensacola starts at 9:30 Saturday morning at Plaza de Luna.
For more information on the walk, you can click here.