Chesterton walk draws hundreds to promote suicide awareness
BY AMY LAVALLEY Post-Tribune correspondent September 15, 2013 11:03PM
Participants in Sunday's annual Out of the Darkness suicide awareness walk at Coffee Creek in Chesterton release balloons in memory of their loved ones. | Post-Tribune
Updated: September 16, 2013 11:16AM
CHESTERTON — Sandy Mola of Calumet Township committed suicide on March 5. She was 40 and left behind two children and grieving family and friends.
Sunday, more than of 20 of them gathered at Coffee Creek, wearing burnt orange shirts bearing her photo on the front and “Don’t let your light dim, let it shine” on the back.
Her brother Jim Mola said if his sister, who worked two jobs to support her children, was struggling with depression, she didn’t tell anyone.
“I still ask myself why. I had no idea. I never saw it coming,” the Crown Point resident said.
More than 200 people gathered at the park for the fifth annual Out of the Darkness walk, an awareness event that brings together survivors of suicide, many of them still struggling, like Jim Mola.
Carly Petersen started the walk after her daughter, Kelsey, committed suicide June 12, 2008, at age 15.
“You either go down or you go up. You have to do something,” the Valparaiso mom said, taking a break to hug someone else who was grieving. “The people that you meet that you never would have met before, now they have somewhere to go.”
The event featured a booth by Porter-Starke Services and a launch of balloons with the names of loved ones written in permanent marker.
Many participants, who fought threatening skies and light rain, wore shirts that bore pictures or nicknames of those lost to suicide. Jeff Beeler wore a purple and green tie-dye shirt in memory of his brother and nephew, who committed suicide 20 months apart.
Beeler, of Naperville, Ill., grew up in Ross Township with Petersen. He first came to the walk to support the Petersen family, and now comes in memory of his own.
“It definitely brings it home, because it’s clear that this affliction is still taking lives, and there are still people who need help,” he said. “We walk and remember those we’ve lost, but to make this work, we have to reach out and remove the stigma from this affliction.”