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Three families hope to prevent more suicides

Mud run June 23 will create awareness
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Know and Go: What: Mud Run 4 Life, a 5K non-timed event. Participants must be 12 years and older When: 8 a.m. on June 23 (7 a.m. check-in) Where: 2000 Aviation Blvd., Lincoln Cost: $25 for individual runners and $50 for families of up to six. $5 for spectators and $20 for up to six spectators in a family Info and online registration: mud-run-4-life.org Info Box: Lincoln?s Suicide Prevention 24-hour Hotline: 645-8866 Placer County Children and Family Services Hotline: 866-293-1940 toll free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 Recognizing that ?life gets muddy,? three Lincoln families have organized a mud run on June 23 to raise awareness about suicide. The Waterlyn, Whalen and Aguilar families from Lincoln each lost a young man to suicide last summer and are hosting Mud Run 4 Life. Kelly Waterlyn, whose son Jake Waterlyn took his life last June at age 20, spoke with The News Messenger about why the event is taking place. ?We would do anything to have our boys back and would do anything to help prevent it (suicide),? Waterlyn said. ?We?re sad because we have to do this, we are torn to shreds but excited to have this event because it?s something people don?t talk about.? The family is ?still in grief counseling,? Waterlyn said, but is ?very strong.? Including Jake, Waterlyn and her husband have five children. ?We are very united and a very strong family,? Waterlyn said. ?It?s what?s getting us through.? Waterlyn said Jake had ?no symptoms of suicide? and the family is ?still in shock? one year later. ?The biggest thing for us as a family is it?s so preventable. It?s not like the boys got cancer or a disease and that?s what?s so heartbreaking,? Waterlyn said. ?We would do anything to have people not go through what we went through.? The mud run is a non-competitive 5K featuring obstacles, including hay bales and giant tires, Waterlyn said. There will also be information about suicide awareness and prevention from organizations including the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention and Lighthouse Counseling and Family Resource Center. ?The whole theory behind it is life gets muddy and is crummy but we?ve got people to help us,? Waterlyn said. ?This year it?s all about everyone is there to help you. Stick your hand out and we?ll grab it.? The mothers and fathers from the three families will speak prior to the run and then, Waterlyn said, ?we are going to go celebrate life.? ?We choose strength,? Waterlyn said. ?When bad things happen to you, you can choose three things. Either let it define you, destroy you or strengthen you. We choose strength.? Money raised by the event will go to the Lincoln Rotary Foundation, Waterlyn said, and be available for suicide prevention and awareness-related grants. ?Let?s say someone needs counseling or a group wants to put something together for the high school for suicide prevention,? Waterlyn said. ?They fill out an application for a grant and then we (three families) have to approve it.? Lincoln High School Principal Jay Berns said that the three suicides affected students at the school. ?One thing about our kids is they care very deeply for one another,? Berns said. ?Even for the kids who didn?t know them, it bothers them and saddens them and hurts them.? Berns said the suicides have ?definitely heightened awareness? on campus and teachers and staff ?are very sensitive? when it comes to suicide prevention and awareness.? ?We are really cautious,? Berns said. ?We want to do what?s right and try to connect them (with help). We are doing everything we can to love and support these kids and let them know better ways to deal. ? As for the mud run, Berns said that ?it?s fantastic.? ?I think awareness is a great thing,? Berns said. ?We can?t hide our heads in the sand and act like kids don?t deal with adversity or tough times.? Trish Gemulla, clinical manager for Lighthouse Counseling and Family Resource Center, said her organization will be at the June 23 mud run. ?We?re going to be there because we?ve been working for awhile in collaboration with the school district and parents in the community to build awareness about suicide,? Gemulla said. Lighthouse will be there to talk about ?ways to be aware? and also how to intervene if someone you know is suicidal, according to Gemulla. Gemulla, a certified trainer for applied suicide intervention skills training, is able to provide a two-day training for the public, including first responders and counselors. ?They come to the training and learn to recognize when someone is suicidal and be comfortable assessing someone for risk and creating a safety plan,? Gemulla said. Calling it an ?underreported number,? Gemulla said ?at least 20 percent of all people in their lifetime report having serious thoughts of suicide in their life-time.? ?It?s a serious subject and something we need to talk about. Creating awareness and prevention is to have people become comfortable talking about it (suicide),? Gemulla said. ?We (as a society) feel it?s kind of taboo and part of awareness is to get past that it?s a taboo subject.?