News

Family walk in memory of Jessica

  • Remembering child: Chris Gibbons with his late daughter Jessica (File photograph)

The family of a young woman who took her own life are to take part in a charity walk in America at the weekend to raise funds for suicide prevention.

Susan Wakefield and Chris Gibbons, parents of Jessica Gibbons, who was 25 when she died, will co-captain the Walking with Jessica team for the Out of Darkness Overnight Walk organised by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

They said: “Jessica’s suicide has left us devastated and changed the lives of our families for ever.

“Although our hearts are broken, we are committed to doing everything we can to support organisations like the AFSP and the valuable work they do to prevent suicide.

“We know that the spirit of our beloved Jessica will be with us every step of the way … and is no doubt amused that her mum and dad — long divorced — are coming together in the fight against suicide.”

They will be joined by Jessica’s aunt, Meredith Wakefield, in Philadelphia for the event, which will see thousands of people come together to walk 16 to 18 miles in one night.

Jessica took her own life in 2016 and Mr Gibbons later helped found the support group Loss — Losing Someone by Suicide — to assist other people bereaved by suicide.

The Walking with Jessica team have raised more than $19,000 so far and Mr Gibbons explained that the funds would benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Mr Gibbons said: “Net proceeds will help those affected by suicide and mental health conditions by supporting research, advocacy, survivor resources, education, and awareness programmes.

“Here in Bermuda we are only just beginning the drive to improve resources, education and awareness and we rely on organisations like AFSP for ideas, guidance and inspiration.”

“AFSP has set a bold goal to reduce the suicide rate 20 per cent by the year 2025, and I’m proud to be part of that mission.”

Ms Wakefield raised more than $10,000 by taking part in the walk last year and she outlined her reasons for joining the event again on the charity’s fundraising page.

She wrote: “I just wish I could talk to her one more time and let her know that I loved her no matter what she was struggling with and that we would get through this together.

“Through your pledges and my walking, we can make that happens for other families whose kids are thinking of ending their lives in a state of despair.

“Suicide is complicated; it is insidious; and no family is protected from this happening to them. It strips you to the core when you lose a loved one to suicide.”

She added: No one ever expects to lose someone they love to suicide. No one ever expects to outlive their child.

“Always remember to be kind to those around you as you never know what emotional load they are carrying.”

• If you have attempted or are considering suicide, please seek professional help or call the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute’s 24-hour hotline at 236-3770. For more information about Loss, visit www.loss.bm