Eighteen years ago, Melody Seiger lost her mother to suicide.
As she continues to deal with that loss almost two decades later, Seiger is hoping to use her experience to help others. With some co-workers at Fulton State Hospital, Seiger is organizing an Out of the Darkness Walk in Fulton on Oct. 14 to raise funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Seiger will host a kickoff party from 6:30-8 p.m. on March 22 at the Fulton State Hospital Main Canteen to give area residents more information and drum up enthusiasm for the event.
"I wanted to do this because I lost my mother to suicide. I realize it's been a big issue here (in Callaway) and I wanted to do something to help," Seiger said. "I wanted to do something to prevent others from having to go through that."
Having convinced several coworkers to join her in participating in an Out of the Darkness Walk in St. Louis in the fall, she said that seemed to her an ideal place to start.
"It was helpful to remember your loved one not for what they had done, but who they were, and to be around people who had the same experience," Seiger said. "It's an important event because it raises awareness about depression and suicide and mental illness, and erases the stigma around getting help."
The best part, she said, is that while 50 percent of the proceeds from the walk go to research projects supported by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the remaining 50 percent remains in the community.
"The money stays here to better educate everyone and increase awareness - we're going to offer it free-of-cost to our schools," Seiger said, noting the goal for Fulton's first Out of the Darkness Walk is $25,000. "We can put educational programs in school and in the community about suicide, and outreach programs in the community to reach out to those who have lost someone."