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Walkers raise $10,000 while shining a light on suicide awareness and prevention

FORT KENT, Maine — Before Ethan Beauman, 21, of Presque Isle died by suicide in November 2016, his family did everything they could think of to help the young man recover from the anxiety and depression that had plagued him for several years.

Shannon Blake, Ethan’s mother, said her son developed anxiety and depression after he was involved in a rollover car accident as a senior in high school.

In the three years following the accident and leading up to his suicide, Ethan attempted three times to take his own life.

Ethan Beauman of Presque Isle, three days before he died by suicide in 2016. His loved ones honor him each year at the Out of the Darkness Walk in Fort Kent, which raises funds for suicide awareness and prevention. (Courtesy of Shannon Blake)

A series of doctor visits and medications to treat Ethan’s anxiety and depression ensued throughout those years, as attempts were made to find the right medication at the right dosage to help Ethan. 

“It wasn’t found in time before he had given up,” said Blake.

Blake said the loss of her son is still fresh. 

“He was very outgoing, very full of life, generous, very compassionate; he loved animals,” she said. 

Six months prior to Ethan’s suicide, he was profoundly affected when Murray, the dog he grew up with, died at 15 years old.

“He had a hard time with that. They were buddies, best friends,” Blake said.

“Four days before we lost Ethan we traveled by car to New York to get another dog, hoping to give him some purpose and save his life,” she said.

Ethan named the dog Jerry.

“Now that little guy is what gets me out of bed,” Blake said. 

Blake and her husband, Ethan’s stepfather Chris Blake, along with other family members and friends attended the 2019 Out of the Darkness Walk in Fort Kent on Saturday, Sept. 7.

The annual walk, which Northern Maine Medical Center sponsors, raises money for 

the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to bring awareness to and provide education about suicide prevention and support survivors of suicide loss.

This is the third year Blake has attended the event. 

“For me it’s the one day of the year I’m around people who truly know what I’m going through; nobody else can who hasn’t been through it,” she said. “We need to bring awareness. I didn’t realize how prevalent suicide was until I lost my own son. It seems since I’ve lived through it I see it all the time now. I don’t want anybody else to feel like I have felt for the past two and a half years.”

Unfortunately, Ethan’s family is far from alone in their grief. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 15-34, and the 10th leading cause of death overall for people in the United States, with one person dying by suicide on average every 12.8 minutes, according to event organizer Andrea Dumond, a social worker at Northern Maine Medical Center. 

“Suicide can afflict anyone regardless of age, gender or ethnic background,” Dumond said. “It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help, it is a sign of strength.”

Among those who attended the Out of the Darkness Walk to offer hope for those contemplating suicide or experiencing situations or feelings which may put them at risk for dying by suicide were representatives of Fish River Rural Health, the Hope and Justice Project, and the Aroostook Mental Heatth Center.

 “We want to share for people out there struggling, that there is support there for you,” said Judith-Eve Moulton, a mobile emergency services professional at AMHC. “You don’t have to deal with it alone.” 

Nearly 150 people attended the 2019 Out of the Darkness Walk, which so far has raised $10,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which has evoked a nationwide initiative, Project 2025, to reduce the annual suicide rate in the United States by 20 percent by the year 2025. 

People can continue to donate to the 2019 Out of the Darkness Walk until Dec. 31.

Those in need of immediate crisis services can contact the  Maine Crisis Line at 1-888-568-1112 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). TheLifeline  also offers a Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 7741741.

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