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Moving Family Stories Propel Suicide Prevention Walk Over the Top

Members of the Carney family were among 226 walkers who raised close to $10,000 for the annual suicide prevention walk, the most ever for the Wayne-Pike County suicide prevention group.

“My two sisters and I were between nine and 13 years of age when my dad passed away,” said Natalie (Carney) Cottell, “at first we all felt like it was our fault or that he didn’t love us… but now, 12 years later, I realize that he was hurting and unfortunately committing suicide was the only thing he thought would help his problems.”

Cottell and her siblings took part in the walk like so many others, because they want to make a difference. “Every time I always say I hope that we will never have to go through this again and I hope this time I am right! There is always someone there to help you or to listen to you,” she explained.

The Carney family was not alone. Walk co-organizer Linda Vose lost her brother to suicide and helped start a suicide survivors support group at Wayne Memorial Hospital. “It’s never easy to lose a loved one. Suicide is an especially painful end because it’s so preventable,” she said. “But we are encouraged by the amount of support for prevention. This walk has been tremendous. This is our fourth year, and each year we see more walkers and raise more money—the most ever this year.”

The walkers were also addressed this year by Board-certified Psychiatrist Rashesh Dholakia, MD, who joined Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers this summer.

Suicide claims more than 38,000 lives each year in the United States—one suicide every 13.7 minutes, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The net proceeds from Out of the Darkness walks around the country go to the Foundation, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide, education, advocacy, and reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.
“The suicide rate in Wayne County is up this year,” said Donna Decker, RN, manager of Community Health at Wayne Memorial Hospital, “and we hope walks like this and the recent school program Rachel’s Challenge bring attention to the problem and encourage people to reach out when they need it.” Rachel’s Challenge is a non-profit national program geared to end bullying.

For more information about the Out of the Darkness walks or Rachel’s Challenge visit, respectively, and

Photo: “Team Dad” finishing up the Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk in Pike County on September 14. Walking for their “dad” and other relatives, left to right: Joe Cordaro; Natalie Cottell holding Wyatt Cottell; Adam Cottell; Mason Iloff (in the stroller); Katelyn Iloff holding Benjamin Iloff; and Annette Carney. Missing team members: Trish Flores and Aimee Masker.







Photo: The Wallenpaupack High School team at the Out of the Darkness Walk. Most participated “in remembrance of one of our student who died last year,” according to walker Gwyneth Devendorf, special education director for Wallenpaupack Area School District.







Photo: “FAME team” from Wallenpaupack High School at the Out of the Darkness walk. Front row: Kathy Smyth; Denise Morgan; Lisa Tait; Gwyn Devendorf; John Toby. Back row: Liz Kromko; Jay Starnes; Brett Buselli and daughter, Reilly. FAME stands for Faculty Advisors Maintaining Effectiveness.






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