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Letter: Many thanks to those who supported me and ND chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Weiler writes, "As I leave my position as board chair for the ND Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention I find myself filled with gratitude for the people in my life that have literally 'walked beside me' after the loss of Jennifer, my daughter, to suicide in 2005. Together we have journeyed from grief to hope to action."

Mary Weiler
Mary Weiler became a suicide prevention activist after her 33-year-old daughter, Jennifer, took her life in 2005. Special to The Forum
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As I leave my position as board chair for the ND Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention I find myself filled with gratitude for the people in my life that have literally “walked beside me” after the loss of Jennifer, my daughter, to suicide in 2005. Together we have journeyed from grief to hope to action.

First and foremost, I am grateful for my immediate family. They are: David and Paula, Kathleen, Michael and Sara, Daniel and Kilee, Sarah and James, Brenda and Derek, Mark and Sarah and my grandchildren Jacob, Josh, Hannah, Emily, Liam, Maya, Ruby, Fyrn and Noella. And I’m especially grateful to my late husband, Bill, who was always there encouraging me to “keep doing this good work.”

My family and their friends were the first ND Chapter board members and walk organizers: working registration, selling merchandise, doing stage set-up, sound/bands, interviews, food, and securing sponsors.

With the help of my family and community support we brought the first Out of the Darkness Community Walk to Fargo. Over 400 registered and we raised $25,000. It was then that our family felt we needed to do more to provide education to our community and expand the out of the darkness walk across the state.

In May 2007, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) ND Chapter was chartered. A board of directors was formed and the work of bringing hope to the ND communities and saving lives through education, prevention, loss and healing and advocacy began.

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Through the years, I believe it has been the strong community connections and personal relationships that have made our chapter successful. Our community connections and partners have been our vital support system. Establishing personal relationships to those who believe in our work is where the power lies to help others heal, change and grow.

I am also grateful for the work of our state support systems: our tribal and community volunteers, law enforcement, schools & universities, healthcare organizations and our local journalists. They are the true lifesavers.

Mission and service have been my foundation.

Mission: I have tried to carry out the AFSP mission “To save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide” by bringing education, programs, and advocacy to our communities and support to the survivors of suicide loss.

Service: I believe that is through service to others that we can make a difference. Service by being present and listening to those who are struggling, engaging in healing conversations, providing education and training and facilitating support groups for loss survivors.

I leave knowing our chapter is in good hands. The chapter has new executive leadership and a passionate and committed board of directors. I have always valued the phrase “The Power of We.” It’s when we work together and support each other, that we can make a difference to the people and communities around us. I continue to believe that with compassion, courage, conviction and persistence, we can indeed change the world.

Mary Weiler is a mental health advocate and former chair of North Dakota's chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

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