Suicide Awareness: Local couple turns pain into change

Local News

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Robin and Karen Abrahams lost their son, Alex, to suicide in 2007.

Alex was 17-years-old and in his senior year of high school.

“He was very happy go lucky, great sense of humor, had a girlfriend, a car, a job,” Robin Abrahams said.

Robin, who was finishing his final tour at Naval Support Activity Panama City retired just one month before Alex decided to take his own life.

“My extended Navy family, they really came through. We didn’t really have to do anything, funeral arrangements, everything.” Robin said.

After one year and losing more people, the couple decided something had to be done.

“I started looking into statistics, and I couldn’t believe that for a young adult from the ages of 15 and 24, suicide was the 3rd leading cause of death,” Karen said.

They created a non-profit called SPARE.

“SPARE stands for suicide prevention, awareness, response, and education. I always say response very strongly because the way you respond to somebody who is contemplating suicide is very important,” Karen said.

The two say being upfront in those situations is the best way to go.

“The best approach is straight forward. Ask them directly, ‘are you thinking about taking your life or killing yourself?’ They say yes. Then you need to stay with that person, call for help, it could be as drastic as calling 911 and don’t leave them alone,” Robin said.

The organization offers resources for grieving families as well as help for those who are dealing with mental health issues who may be contemplating suicide.

“There are statistics out there that say a certain amount of people that complete suicide was depressed or had other mental health issues prior to the attempt or completion so if we can get these people, the help they need, they will see tomorrow,” Karen said.

The Abrahams’ say the best way to help someone in these times is to let them know they will get through the dark time they’re in.

“Tomorrow is another day. This is one step in your life that if you step high enough, you can step over. If you go wide enough, you can go around.”

SPARE is hosting a ‘Bridge of Hope Walk’ on Saturday, September 21 at Leslie Porter Wayside Park. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.

The non-profit is also hosting a Suicide Prevention Conference at FSU PC on October 2 inside the Holley Building.

Learn more about the organization here.

The number for the National Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

For more mental health resources in the area, click here.

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