by Terry Rogers
In August 2017, Jackie Creasey moved to Boston, five months before her younger brother, Alex, took his own life at just 19 years old. In April 2019, Creasey will run the Boston Marathon for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in memory of her brother. She has created a crowdfunding page which has collected over $12,000 of her $20,000 goal.
“After Alex’s death, the grief we felt as a family was, and still is, crushing,” Creasey said. “I think, as a whole, we lost a sense of purpose, a sense of drive. I know I certainly did. Then, last April, I went to the Boston Marathon finish line and watched people run in the driving rain and wind for causes they believed in. I cried as they ran because it was incredible to see how far the human spirit can take you. That was the first time, since January 25th, that I felt much of anything besides despair. I vowed that I would run the Boston Marathon in 2019. My plan wasn’t clear yet, but I knew I would find a way and I knew I wanted to find a charity related to suicide prevention. Running for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention allows me to tell Alex’s story while raising money for an incredible organization.”
Creasey has never run a marathon and the Boston Marathon will be her first. She explained that she has run two half-marathons and completed a triathalon. She had actually decided that she was no longer interested in running a full marathon until her visit to the Boston finish line.
It is very important to Creasey to get her brother’s story out. On her crowdfunding page, she describes Alex as incredibly successful and someone who, on the surface, appeared to have it all. He graduated from Milford High School with the school record for most wrestling wins in 2017. He earned straight A’s his first semester in college and was awarded an internship that he had just applied for just before he died. She says he was kind, sensitive and caring although he was not any of those things to himself.
“Alex left with no warning,” Creasey said. “He did not suffer from any known depression, anxiety or mental health disorder. Not, at least, a disorder that he was able to share with us. Alex was unable to voice his suffering, so he suffered in silence until he could not any longer. There are many reasons to spread the word about Alex. I know there are others out there, like him, who don’t feel they can speak up. I know there are families, like mine, who have no idea there is an underlying problem. I want those who are struggling to know they can speak up. I want them to know anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns are nothing to be ashamed of. I think more people are struggling than even we realize. Mental health should be openly discussed, in my opinion. There is always a better alternative to suicide. It is not the answer. There is help waiting for whoever needs it. I really believe that. I think those who are struggling lose sight of how loved they are, and are afraid to reach out to the people who want to help them the most.”
One thing that Creasey wants to address is the misconception that there is a typical person who takes their own life. She believes that a lot of people have an idea that if someone takes their own life, they were openly depressed and left a trail of signs before their death. She has learned that this is absolutely not the case and, the more people she talks to, the more she finds out that many have lost their loved ones the same way her family lost Alex, without any warning.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, research has consistently shown that the large majority of people who die by suicide have a mental health condition at the time of their death that may or may not have been diagnosed or adequately treated. Research has also shown that mental health conditions are not the whole story. Although mental health conditions are common among those who commit suicide, the vast majority of people who suffer from these illnesses do not die by suicide. In addition, only two out of five people who are suffering from a mental illness actually seeks treatment.
“If someone is contemplating suicide, I would beg them to stay,” Creasey said. “There is so much to live for, even if they can’t see it right now. I would tell them that even if they are sure that no one would miss them, losing them would be the most devastating thing that their family would ever have to live through. I would remind them that their family loves them for who they are, and genuinely wants to help them. I would tell them to enjoy the little moments in life. Every time I see a beautiful sunrise that starts a new day, I think of Alex. Don’t miss the sunrise. It’s waiting for you.”
Donations can be made to Creasey’s fund raising effort by visiting https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/american-foundation-for-suicide-prevention-boston-2019/jackiecreasey.
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