FAIRMONT - The strong stigma against suicide prevents people from seeking the help they need. It also can be a barrier to healing for those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
"Once you break the silence of suicide, you break the cycle," says Fairmont resident Kathy Frolik, who lost her daughter, Larissa, to suicide last year.
A month after Larissa died, Frolik and Cheri Leiding attended a "Stomp Out Suicide" event held in Wyoming, Minn.
"I was still numb in grieving," Frolik said. "But the atmosphere was wonderful. There were lots of people there representing someone they lost or were struggling with their own issues and mental health. The balloon release was a comforting thing for me. We wrote a message and let it go."
"It was also a great way to get information," said Leiding, Larissa's aunt. "Find out how there is more of a need for this."
"There was nothing like this down here," Frolik said. "It's something that really helps with the grieving and healing process."
A contingent of Larissa's family members and friends formed the "Break the Silence" campaign.
"We were already talking about it on the way back," Frolik said. "But we went into action in January ... The logo is two thumbprints, and the thumbprints are Larissa's and they're placed in the form of a broken heart."
Frolik hopes the "Breaking The Silence 5K" walk, bike or run will become an annual event.
"During my grieving process, this kept my mind on the positive," she said. "It's easy to fall back and I still do, but if I can do one thing for Larissa, I can reach out to somebody else."
Jeannie Borowski was a classmate of Larissa's, and also lost a brother to suicide 10 years ago.
"There is such a stigma to suicide," Borowski said. "You don't want people to think you're crazy so you don't tell anyone."
Such was the case for Larissa.
"She never told us anything," Frolik said. "But that emotion and pain is short-term. Most people that I've met who attempted suicide and failed are glad they are still here."
The 5K will take place July 12 at Jeffrey Kot fields at the Fairmont soccer complex along South Prairie Avenue.
"We chose the soccer fields because that was where Larissa was happiest, when she was playing soccer," Frolik said. "She had played since she was 5. There is a memorial bench at the soccer fields for her now."
Along with breaking the silence on suicide, the goal of the event is to raise community awareness and ultimately set up a scholarship fund for those pursuing mental health or counseling studies.
"We chose the walk, bike or run because that's something just about anyone can do," Frolik said. "I go for walks every day, and it's a good release for my anxiety and it gives me some peace and quiet. It's a healthy way to deal with those emotions."
An acoustic band will be featured, along with speakers, a silent auction and vendors. Counselors and representatives from the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention organization will be on hand. Borowski's massage business and Anytime Fitness will be there to address the physical aspects that play a role in mental fitness.
"It's open to everyone," Borowski said. "You don't need to have lost anyone to come out. Anyone can come and walk."
Registration for the 5K is $20 from now through July 1. Registration can be done online at breakthesilencesuicideawareness.weebly.com
For more information, contact Leiding at (507) 236-3440, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
There is also a Facebook page: facebook.com/Breakingthesilenceliveon5k