WALDEN - Every 16 minutes, someone dies by suicide -- that's 33,000 U.S. deaths each year! Here in the Hudson Valley, people are taking action against these startling statistics by hosting a Saturday, June 5 motorcycle/poker run to raise funds and awareness for suicide prevention. Billed as the 2010 "Here Comes the Sun Bike Run," the event kicks off at 10:30 am from East Side Bar & Grill, 624 Route 52, in Walden.
Participants, financial sponsors, and donations of food and prizes are needed!The third annual run involves a 2-hour scenic ride with periodic stops where participants are dealt individual poker cards. The rider with the best poker hand upon return to East Side wins a cash prize during an after party to celebrate life and remember loved ones lost. The party includes a hot buffet, a live music, raffles, and contests galore. Organized by the Hudson Valley Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the event is sponsored by East Side Bar & Grill, WPDH radio station, Lithography by Design, Tommy Hilfiger, and Goldstein Lieberman & Company LLC, Revere Smelting & Refining Corp., to bring awareness to mental health issues and help erase the stigma around mental health and suicide so that more people will seek help.
Registration is 8:30 - 10:15 a.m. The donation is $25 per rider or event guest and $40 per couple. Bike clubs and individuals alike are encouraged to support the event by riding alone or as a team in memory of someone lost to suicide. Non riders are welcome, too! Anyone touched by suicide, depression or mental illness is encouraged to attend. Money raised will fund local suicide prevention, awareness and educational programs in Orange, Ulster, Sullivan, Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland Counties. It will also help fund national research. A rain date is scheduled for Saturday, June 19.
Linda Ferraro, a Here Comes the Sun event organizer from Poughkeepsie, lost her 18-year old son, Nick, to suicide in 2004. "Since losing a teen, I personally know the importance of suicide prevention education," she said. "With the help of donations and sponsorships, we can support local programs to be used at high schools and colleges, educate our communities, and train people to help those suffering a recent loss. Suicide prevention, for many, may be a matter of one caring person with the right knowledge being available at the right place and the right time," Mrs. Ferraro said. Michelle Terwilliger-Hathaway, another event organizer, lost her 31-year-old brother, Bryan Terwilliger, to suicide three years ago. "The first year, I was completely numb," she said, "but getting involved has since given me a voice so that I can speak out so that other families may not ever know this type of tragedy." Mrs. Hathaway is not a biker, but she'll wear her brother's leather jacket and ride as a passenger on a motorcycle in his memory. Ninety percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death. Bryan Terwilliger was one of them. "He struggled his whole life with bi-polar disorder with bouts of happiness followed by severe depression. It's an illness you cannot "see" and he felt his depression was shameful to talk about. I'm working to change that now."
Unbelievably, 90 Americans take their lives each day, and 2,300 more attempt to do so. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for those 18 to 65 years old. Yet it is often preventable and the depression that leads to it is treatable. AFSP is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide. The June 5 bike run is an extension of AFSP's suicide awareness walk each year called, "Out of the Darkness."
For more information on the 2010 "Here Comes the Sun Bike Run," contact Maria Idoni, AFSP Hudson Valley Area Director at (914) 417-7993 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To pre-register for the event go to http://afsp.donordrive.com. For additional information on suicide prevention initiatives go to www.afsp.org. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255.)
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide. To fully achieve its mission, AFSP engages in the following five core strategies: funding scientific research; offering educational programs for professionals; educating the public about mood disorders and suicide prevention; promoting policies and legislation that impact suicide and prevention; and providing programs and resources for survivors of suicide loss and people with mood disorders, and involve them in the work of the Foundation.