Suicide has had a major impact in Springfield in recent years. A young man with local ties, Garrett Scanlon, is seeking your support in his cause to open others’ eyes about depression, mental illness, and suicide prevention. Garrett is participating in the Out of the Darkness Overnight walk in Boston which benefits the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Garrett shared his story with us, so we thought it best to share it with you.
My name is Garrett Scanlon. I’ve lived in Springfield all my life, first in Flourtown, and now in Wyndmoor, and I also had the pleasure of attending our district’s wonderful schools, graduating in 2011. I am proud to call Springfield my hometown, and it pains me to see this great community fall victim to heart-wrenching tragedy as it has in recent years. You see, in the last 7 years, I’ve seen and experienced the effects of suicide 4 times in the place I call home. Shane, Janet, Anthony, and Cole all took their lives, and in turn, affected my own life and countless others. I’d like to share my own experiences with you:
Shane, Anthony, and Cole were all students at Springfield; kids with their whole lives ahead of them. Yet despite Springfield banding together after Shane’s passing, and again after Anthony’s; Cole’s suicide still occurred. Again, the community came together to support one another, holding vigils, offering all kinds of help in any way possible. But this outpouring of support has only ever been a reaction – it only happens AFTER the loss of another loved one.
What we need instead is to be proactive. We need support for everyone, at all times. No more waiting until after a tragedy happens. What we need is for the stigma around depression, suicide, and mental illnesses to end. Those in need of help must be able to ask for it unabashedly, and we all need to do our best to give them the love and support they need to persevere.
Janet’s story is a little bit different. Unlike Shane, Anthony, and Cole, who were all kids, Janet was in her 50s when she took her own life on December 13th, 2010. She battled depression much of her adult life, and had been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder several years prior to her suicide. Her family did their best to support her through her tough times, but they didn’t always know how she truly felt, nor did they know what warning signs to look for. Soon, they realized they hadn’t done nearly enough research on Borderline Personality Disorder, depression, and the risks of suicide. It was never a thought that occurred to them until it was too late.
Janet was my mother and that family is my own. Three years later we are all moving on, but the pain is still there, and the trauma of losing such a close family member to suicide is something I wish upon no one.
Because of this wish, I’ve spent the last few years trying to help in any way I can. I chose Borderline Personality Disorder for the topic of my Senior Seminar in high school, trying to educate my classmates and putting on a small benefit concert to raise money for To Write Love On Her Arms, another great organization. Sophomore year of college I chose Mental Illness as my public speaking class topic, hoping to raise awareness among my peers.
Last year, I walked in The Overnight for my first time in Philadelphia, and I raised over $2,500! It was an incredible experience benefitting a great cause, so I’ve decided to do the walk again this year in Boston, and I hope to exceed last year’s fundraising total. This year my girlfriend, Ashley, will be walking with me, and together we created Team Janet!
We need to be more educated as a society. We need to understand the causes and effects of mental illnesses, the effects that our words and actions have on others, and the lasting impact suicide has on a person’s friends, family, and community.
So today I write to you in hopes of raising awareness. In hopes of preventing tomorrow’s suicides. Today I write to you in hopes of never adding another name to my list.
Shane, Janet, Anthony, and Cole, may you all rest in peace. <3
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It gets better.
We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don’t get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. We won’t solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we’re called home.
-Jamie Tworkowski, Founder of To Write Love On Her Arms
Last year the Out of the Darkness Overnight walk was in Philadelphia, but this year it will be on June 27th-28th, 2015 in Boston.
Here are the links to the fundraising pages:
Garrett’s personal fundraising page.
Ashley’s personal fundraising page.
Team Janet’s fundraising page.
In order to help eliminate the stigma and secrecy, talk to your kids and family members about depression, mental illness, and suicide. Also start the conversations about both physical and cyber bullying. Need help? Get it here.
If you have a personal experience that could bring awareness to this, or other causes, to the community, please send us a note via our Contact Us page.