By Mary O’KEEFE
A picnic was held on Saturday for family, friends and supporters of Jeff Laughrey.
“This is new,” said Jeff’s dad Fred of the picnic.
Normally this group would gather for the Jeff Laughrey Memorial Golf Tournament as a way to raise funds and awareness for those suffering from depression. Jeff died in September 2009 of suicide.
His family and friends were devastated by the loss but found that the golf tournament and helping others were the best ways to heal.
It was amazing for them to learn how many people have been touched by someone with depression and even more surprising how many people knew someone who had committed suicide.
“We were camping and were in a group talking and we started talking about how many kids we had,” Fred said.
That would begin an explanation of how they had two sons but then would share their story of Jeff.
“Then you hear, ‘I lost a wife or a child,’” Fred said.
“It’s like an epidemic,” Jeff’s mother Sue added.
The idea for the golf tournament began when a friend, Brian Ferrera, took Jeff’s brother Jay golfing.
Brian just wanted to get Jay out of the house and as they played they came up with the idea for a tournament. It was successful initially but last year the momentum seemed to wane so this year the family decided to have a picnic for those long time supporters.
The family will continue to support suicide awareness and prevention through several events including those sponsored by Didi Hirsch. They know how important it is to continue to reach out, to continue to talk about it and to continue to heal.
“Only 1% of parents stay together after [a child’s suicide] and we are still together,” Fred said.
“Everyone’s life changes,” Sue added.
Even though Jeff’s death was about six years ago, the family is still dealing with the loss.
“We are still going through it,” Jay said. “Talk about it. Don’t be afraid to talk about it.”
“If you have a friend with a problem tell someone,” Sue said. “It is all about communication.”
“[A suicide] affects parents, friends, siblings all differently,” Jay said.
The family has been very open with sharing their experience with others. Their main message is to communicate and not to be afraid to speak up, whether it is someone in your family or someone you know who might be dealing with depression. This is important for adults and also for children.
“There is a lot of pressure not just for older kids but for [children] even as young as elementary [students],” Sue said.
“It is important that kids have someone they can trust,” he said.
Anyone who would like information about Jeff can visit www.jefflaughrey.1.golfreg.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations are being directed to Didi Hirsch at www.didihirsch.org or contact (888) 807-7250.
Suicide Prevention Crisis Line is (877) 727-4747.