Wives without husbands. Brothers without sisters. Children without parents. Suicide brings darkness to even the brightest worlds, but many who have lost loved ones say it doesn’t have to be that way.
Kids these days seem to share everything. A group of kids in Pensacola is sharing more than a snap or a tweet. Sharing the story of how your parent or grandparent took their own life isn’t easy.
“Then I remember just like seeing him at the table with pop and my mom carrying me on her back and just going out the door,” said Ethan Windhan, whose father committed suicide in 2015.
Ethan remembers plenty about his father, like how he ‘never had hair,’ and how much he loved Auburn athletics. He also remembers vividly the day his mother checked him out of school to tell him his father was dead.
“Then my mom said, like… that he had… whatever,” Ethan said. “Then, after that we had talked a little bit then we went and got back in the car. I was kinda glad she had brought me down there instead of telling me at the house cause that was her favorite place to go, down to the beach area.”
Ethan is not alone. Cameron Teachey is a sophomore at Tate High School. He’s a football player, and no stranger to the pain of suicide.
“Life sometimes just gets to people,” Teachy said. “I don’t know what he was thinking, but that’s what he did and it was really hard on my mom.”
Cameron’s father took his own life January 9th, 2012, when Cameron was 11. His mother took her life May of this year.
“You know, try to understand it,” Teachy said of why the Out of the Darkness walk is important. “Make it more aware. I didn’t know it was going to happen to me but…. some people you can tell. and maybe you can prevent it, but… I don’t know.”
Payton Simmons is also a sophomore at Tate. She was five years old when she first experienced the loss of a loved one to suicide.
“My dad took his life,” Simmons said. “Then like, my grandma stepped in to like be like a father figure and she just helped my mom out with a lot of things. Then when I was 13 she took her life too and that was just like… a really big tragedy in my life.”
Home videos bring her family comfort. Payton offers that comfort to her friends who seek her out after a loved one takes their life.
“I mean, there’s always ups and downs in life but like… life is just good,” Payton said. “You shouldn’t feel like you’re alone because you’re not alone, no matter who you are.”
The second annual Out of the Darkness walk brings attention to suicide awareness and prevention and gives families a chance to remember their loved ones.
“It’s important to have it so everyone can come together and have a fun time and not worry about other things but just remember their loved ones and walk for them,” Windham said. “I just feel happy and like all the things you’re worried about are just poofed away.”
Kids these days… sharing stories about their lives. They know if it can help one mom who is struggling, or one father who lost his partner, or one child who lost their world, the difference can ripple through a community.
Tomorrow’s walk begins at 9:30 at Plaza de Luna in downtown Pensacola.