VINCENNES, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– Janet Schnell remembers how hard it was in the aftermath of her brother’s death in 1995.
“When Kent died, I couldn’t talk about suicide, I couldn’t say I was a loss survivor. I was judged by the way that I grieved. I was told not to feel guilty.”
Saturday morning showed a different atmosphere surrounding mental health and suicide, as dozens of community members attended the 7th annual suicide prevention awareness walk at the Vincennes University track.
Organizer Kathy Evans, who works with Mental Health America of Knox County, said the goal of the event is to raise awareness on the resources available to community members who are struggling as well as their loved ones.
“We also have a lot of information on what that friend or family member can do if they need support, or if a person is struggling themselves, what they can do,” Evans said.
Those who attended walked around the track and also listened to words from Vincennes Mayor Joe Yochum, as well as Schnell, who was the speaker for the event. Schnell said spreading her story helps her connect with other people in her situation.
“The reason I tell my story is I don’t want loss survivors to feel like they are alone. That coming out and talking, I’m meeting so many more sibling loss survivors. But we have a story to share. And I want to be able to share my story so that other people are encouraged to share their story,” she said.” “Because really what we’re doing is we’re preventing suicide.”
Schnell, who became a social worker following her brother’s death, said it also helps her feel closer with him.
“I still remember Kent, and actually, one thing that I noticed is when I talk about him, I feel a very warm handprint in the middle of my back, where I feel like it’s Kent telling me, ‘Go sis, I’m proud of you, you’re preventing suicides,’ because I don’t think he knew he had an option when he died.”
September marks national suicide prevention awareness month. Those who know someone struggling can call 988 or text 741-741 to reach a licensed professional.