The Long Island Crisis Center held its fourth annual “Let’s Walk, Let’s Talk … Stepping Together to Prevent Suicide” event on September 30th on the boardwalk at Riverside Boulevard.
The day’s program began when Island Park resident and teacher, Pat Collins, was awarded the center’s Community Service Award for her commitment to education, social activism, advocacy and philanthropy.
With the L.I. Crisis Center’s loud and clear message that no one can be a bystander in suicide prevention and awareness, more than 600 people turned out for the walk, many of them family and friends of loved ones who had committed suicide.
The walk included a program that highlighted three young people who, through their different messages, are putting a spotlight on suicide prevention.
Jamie Isaacs, 17, a student at the Knox School in St. James, was a victim of bullying beginning at age 8. She told the crowd that she credits her survival to “strong family support and a philosophy that things can and will get better and when I speak to other kids I give them that message.”
She is the founder of The Jamie Isaacs Foundation for Anti-Bullying, and has already published a book, In Jamie’s Words, which recounts her journey from victim to activist.
Brooke DiPalma, a junior at West Islip High School, spoke about her father’s suicide.
“The very last thing my father said to me was ‘I love you,’” she said. “To remember him and to try and make a difference in suicide prevention, I’ve named my campaign, ‘P.S. I Love You.’ The campaign is highlighted by a P.S. I Love You Day in school, which takes place the second Friday in February and we wear purple to communicate our message. We’ve already gone national and I look forward to the day when everyone wears purple on that day.”
Young recording artist, Sara P. ended the program with a song, “Let It Go,” written especially for teens who are feeling overwhelmed, isolated or sad or who might be thinking of suicide as a solution.
The event raised $40,000 and major sponsors were Elias Properties, Karma411, Tweezerman International, Bellmore Kiwanis Club, Pop’s Wine and Spirits of Island Park, and Legislator Dave Denenberg. The proceeds will go toward the center’s 24/7 hotline services and community education outreach programs.
Fran Karliner is the director of the Long Island Crisis Center in Bellmore.