Leslie Asche-Thackery’s goal of raising awareness and educating the community about suicide has barely begun.
In June 2012, Thackery and Kimmie Maxwell, a local stay-at-home mom who’s sister-in-law committed suicide in 2011, organized Greensburg’s inaugural “Out of the Darkness” Suicide Prevention Walk, held at Greensburg Community High School.
Maxwell told the Daily News at the time that Out of the Darkness is similar to the “Relay for Life” Cancer Walk, the primary difference being that Darkness is held to raise awareness of suicide.
The 2012 first-time event went well, according to Maxwell, with almost 60 participants and more than $4,000 in total donations, but the weather was oppressively hot.
Asche-Thackery, who’s experienced an unsuccessful suicide attempt in her family and has dealt with the issue many times as funeral director at Greensburg’s Gilliland-Howe Funeral Home, told the Daily News Monday afternoon that she and Maxwell aim to organize the second annual Greensburg Out of the Darkness Walk for May.
“The 2012 walk was great and very successful — especially for a first-time event,” Asche-Thackery said. “But the heat was a bit much. We’d like to have a little cooler weather to hold it in this year.
That doesn’t leave Asche-Thackery and Maxwell much time to organize the walk.
As such, the pair will meet Monday at Gilliland-Howe with Lisa Brattain, chair of the Indiana Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
According to Asche-Thackery, she and Maxwell would like to create a Greensburg AFSP sub-chapter to organize the Greensburg Out of Darkness Walk as an annual event.
Asche-Thackery and Maxwell prefer not to form a formal Greensburg AFSP Chapter, thereby allowing them to avoid a sizable amount of red tape that would go along with such a group. Instead, the two women prefer to allow the Indianapolis AFSP chapter to formally stage the walk.
“Last year’s walk,” Asche-Thackery explained, “was kind of a ‘reach out and see’ event. We wanted to gauge community interest and see if we could raise enough money to fund an Out of the Darkness event.”
According to Asche-Thackery, the walk requires around $1,500 in yearly funding. Last year’s numbers make that amount seem highly attainable.
The chief question moving forward, Asche-Thackery added, is how much of the yearly fund-raising totals could remain local and how much would be channeled into the Indianapolis AFSP Chapter if Greensburg becomes an official sub-chapter.
“Obviously, we’d like to keep as much of the money local as possible,” Asche-Thackery said. “That’s an issue we’ll certainly be addressing with Lisa on Monday.”
Assuming a significant portion or all of the money could remain local, Asche-Thackery and Maxwell envision using it to fund quarterly Out of the Darkness suicide awareness and prevention meetings.
Those meetings, according to the funeral director, would feature speakers, educational materials and support sessions for suicide survivors.
“We’d even like to offer support for people thinking about suicide,” Asche-Thackery said. “We’d really like to structure it as an outreach program.”
Ultimately, Asche-Thackery and Maxwell want to create a Steering Committee to help guide Greensburg’s Out of the Darkness efforts.
“We envision about 20 people on our Steering Committee,” she said. “They would be responsible for organizing the walk itself and the quarterly meetings and associated activities.”
On Jan. 17, Asche-Thackery created a Facebook page (“American Foundation for Suicide Prevention - Greensburg, Indiana”) to recruit people interested in either joining the proposed Steering Committee or becoming involved in the Greensburg Out of the Darkness effort in other ways.
Interest, she said, has been brisk, “We had 63 Facebook ‘likes’ on the first day.”
For more information on Out of the Darkness, Greensburg, call Asche Thackery at 663-8341 or call Kimmie Maxwell at 663-3075.
For help with depression or suicidal thoughts, call Greensburg’s Centerstone at 663-7057 or 800-832-5442.
Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011.