Community walk aimed at suicide prevention

11/17/2013

By ANGIE HAFLICH

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

Michelle White offered words of advice to the crowd of participants gathered for the Southwest Kansas Suicide Prevention Organization's Shining the Light into Darkness Community Walk on Saturday.

"Make a difference in somebody's life. Whether you know them or not, smile, say hi. You never know what difference that might make in their life. Let them know that you care," White said.

White is the coordinator of the walk and has been working to get the organization together for the past two and a half years, since her son, Corbin Lillibridge, committed suicide at the age of 17.

"One of the main goals of our committee is erasing the stigma," White told the crowd at Stevens Park.

She said that when her son died, she felt alone.

"The main thing we want people to know is you're not alone. There is support, and through our organization, we want everyone to know there's support, that we're there for them, and we will get the word out, and we will get the stigma off of it. And we will let people know that, 'It's OK to talk about it, it's OK to acknowledge it and it's OK to remember our loved ones,'" White said. "Get involved, talk to people. Suicide is 100 percent preventable. Just talk — we've got to talk. We've got to tell people, we've got to get the word out."

White's family and friends wore T-shirts and on the back of them, it said, 'Haste ye back Corbs.'

"My son claimed to be Scottish because his stepdad is Scottish," she said, laughing. "Haste ye back means, 'until we meet again.' and then we've got the Gaelic cross, and he also claimed to be Mexican and that's why we've got the big Hispanic angel wings on the back."

The front of her shirt said, 'I love my crazy son,' and others' said, 'I love my crazy brother,' and 'I love my crazy nephew.'

The event kicked off at Steven's Park with a balloon release commemorating the many loved ones who were being honored, as the song, "See You Again," by Carrie Underwood played. Participants walked to Lee Richardson Zoo and back.

Eight-year-old Tucker Oglesby made a statement to those on hand that brought it all home Saturday.

"Hey. My name's Tucker, and I lost a dad. I was just a little kid," he said, shrugging his shoulders. "I don't know how it happened. It's just so tragic. I miss him every time I think about him."

Tucker's dad, Taylor Oglesby, died in March 2007 at age 21.

His mother also said a few words to the crowd.

"He was a dad, a husband, a friend and a son," Natasha Oglesby said. "He was always full of life, and he always had something fun in his head to do, something interesting to do for the day. When he left us, it was hard to get through, but we did it through family and friends and knowing that he wouldn't want us to be sad about it."

Natasha and Tucker, along with family and friends, wore T-shirts that said TNT (an acronym for Taylor, Natasha and Tucker) for the walk.

Susan Orosco of Hugoton shared her grandson Dominic Cole Sandoval Esarey's story. He committed suicide in April 2012 at the age of 14.

"The only way I've been able to cope with this is to research and research and research. There are warning signs, and I'd like to read you a few of them: If they talk about committing suicide; have trouble eating or sleeping; experience drastic changes in behavior; withdraw from friends and other social activities; lose interests in hobbies, work, school; prepare for death by making out a will and final arrangements; and give away prized possessions," Orosco said.

She said she found that shortly before his death, Dominic had said goodbye to people through social media and texts and that he gave away all of his skateboarding hats.

"I don't think Dominic wanted to do it. I think Dominic felt like he needed to do it. He was in a very bad situation. He was being bullied, and let me tell you, that's a really hard thing on a kid. Kids are cruel, people can be cruel and Dominic was a very loving, generous, kind young man," she said. "He had six girls he texted every morning that he'd say, 'Good morning beautiful. How are you today?' And those girls appreciated that so much because they were tortured at school, they were tormented. He was everyone's friend — he didn't know anyone he didn't like. But people didn't understand that kindness is a gift. They took it as a weakness."

Orosco said, after her speech, she just wants people to be aware of suicide's warning signs and how prevalent it has become.

"It's the third leading cause of death among kids aged 14 to 24," she said.

For more information, email ks_chelle@yahoo.com or (620) 499-5174.

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