Wednesday, May 05, 2021
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Surviving the color run by Team of Mercy

By Cindy Edwards, Special To The Times

COVID-19 would probably be your answer if asked to name a modern-day
plague, however, something entirely different is claiming too many
lives. It is named as a societal issue by the Centers for Disease
Control, based simply upon the number of Americans affected by related
deaths and survivorship.

Shockingly, death by suicide is just as common as death resulting from
all other causes. To this day there has been an attached stigma of
shame preventing survivors from seeking help with recovery. Support
and assistance in recovering through grief is available but hadn’t
been easy to find in the past. You may be one of those survivors.

Team of Mercy is a non-profit organization established a few years ago
as an emergency resource for suicide survivors in the Wabash Valley.
Tammy Connor, suicide survivor and founder, in the midst of her own
pain searched for affordable cleanup services to no avail. She learned
that survivors are immediately at a 300% higher chance of committing
suicide themselves, when having to clean up the suicide scene while
their grief is so raw and heavy. Afterward, she wanted to connect with
and provide support and help to other local survivors.

Initially, she offered a support group, out of which grew the “Team."
On the deepest level, she recognized the need for sympathy,
compassion, even for an empathetic bond after the loss of a loved one
by suicide. Another team member shared in the TOM website video that
"survivors" grief is different, more intensely personal because their
loved ones actively chose to end their lives. Team members have found
purpose in helping others, and while grief will never completely
abate, they’ve experienced levels of recovery, even finding joy in
their camaraderie.

The TOM website lists local and national helpline numbers, community
emergency links, one-on-one grief counseling, support groups and
medical links, churches and sponsors, some of whom are cleanup
services in partnership with TOM. Events are also listed and although
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month, it is months away.

Lisa Stepro, too familiar with the heartbreak endemic to suicide
survivorship, wants you to know now how to find help locally. She also
wants to raise awareness for Team of Mercy and is welcoming inquiries
and volunteers for the “Surviving the Color” run on May 22 in Terre
Haute, on the local Team of Mercy Facebook page.

Tragically, death by suicide has risen to epidemic levels in America.
In current data the CDC claims there is one suicide every 12 minutes.
It’s listed as the 10th leading cause of death in the USA, leaving
behind over 250,000 survivors. Another website by the National
Alliance on Mental Illness includes a quote that suicidal thoughts are
tied to mental health conditions. Age, gender, and background may
not make a difference as 
these thoughts can arise from lack of treatment.
Suicidal thoughts 
should never be considered normal and may be
indicators of serious 
issues. By instinct, suicide is a sharp, angular,
repulsive word and 
yet the act is so much more grievous. Wouldn’t
it be wonderful if it 
could be eradicated, not only as an active word
in our vocabulary, but 
also as a statistic and cause of death?

How has suicide affected you? Whether suicide took a friend or family
member, or merely an acquaintance from your life, you were personally
affected. You were probably left wondering why … how could I have
helped … or what could I have done; but there are never easy answers
because the answers can only come from the one who has taken their own
life. In a matter of a few moments, I thought of five people in my
life who had attempted or succeeded with suicide and another who
admitted to me recently about contemplating the act. I can also think
of  others outside my circle who have been affected.

There are ways you can help and hopefully prevent suicide in your
realm of family, friends and acquaintances. Visit the Team of Mercy
Facebook page. Read their information, like and share their page, and
sign up for the “Surviving the Color” Run on May 22 as a participant
or sponsor. Speak out about the organization and promote their
mission. Visit the Team of Mercy website and invest yourself in any
number of ways. You maybe save the next life just by sharing. It will
always be more rewarding to be part of the solution to this problem.

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