Woman Lends Jewelry Skills To Personal Suicide Awareness Campaign

Two fundraising jars are on the counter at Northend Laundromat in Lyndonville. Both are efforts led by the Young family; one jar is to raise money for Riverside Rescue and the other supports suicide awareness with money going to the Out of Darkness fundraising walk in Newport. Standing in back is April Fournier, who works at the Laundromat. (Photo by Dana Gray)

A year ago it was the memory of a beloved pet that drove a Lyndonville woman with jewelry-making skills to raise money for SAD-SAC, and this year the memory of her brother is her fundraising motivation.

Mandy Young hopes people will help her raise money to support suicide awareness and prevention. Her brother, Gabriel, took his own life in August 2007 at age 26, and Young wants to support the Out of Darkness Walk in Newport. The annual event is a fundraiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Young said people need to know suicide is something that impacts anyone.

“It’s important to know and have the ability to reach out when [loved ones] are in that space,” said Young.

She said events like the Out of Darkness Walk draw much-needed attention to the reality of suicide. Young said she hopes support for the local walk will make an impact. “That’s my hope; even if they can help just one person,” she said.

Young said she lacked awareness about the depth of her brother’s struggles or the knowledge about how to engage with him.

“If maybe we had the tools and the knowledge that it was OK to reach out when he was having struggles,” said Young. “That line of communication is so vital.”

Young is raising money for the walk fundraiser by selling jewelry that she handcrafts. She wire-wraps colorful stones, adding various figures, making necklaces and pendants.

Nick’s Gas N Go in Lyndonville is partnering with Young in the fundraising effort for suicide awareness by displaying Young’s jewelry for a donation.

Owner Roni Leach said Young also displayed jewelry a year ago during the SAD-SAC fundraiser. People interested in supporting the fundraiser and getting a piece of hand-crafted jewelry are asked to donate a minimum of $5.

Young said she also hopes to sell the jewelry at the Lyndonville Farmers Market this summer.

Heather White, director for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention chapters across New England, and Young have connected about Young’s fundraising mission. White said she is grateful for Young’s efforts.

“We are always so humbled when someone like Mandy steps up and shares her connection to the cause,” White said in an email. “Our AFSP Mission is built on those touched by suicide willing to take the initiative to raise awareness of suicide prevention, and for Mandy to dedicate her talents and time to raise funds for our local Vermont AFSP chapter, is selfless and we are so grateful!”

The traditional Out of Darkness walks couldn’t happen last year due to the pandemic, but White said she hopes they can happen with more normalcy this year. She said no date has been set, but one is forthcoming.

“Be on the lookout for a Save The Date soon for a Saturday in September!” she said.

White said, “The Out of the Darkness walk is a tremendous day of hope and healing for all of those who have lost someone to suicide, and those who struggle or support a loved one. A loss of a loved one to suicide or having your own thoughts of suicide can be a very isolating and lonely place – but at an Out of the Darkness Walk, we can stand, side-by-side, with hundreds of others who have been in our shoes.”

She said the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention relies on the Out of Darkness Walk for financial support. She said in terms of all the money generated to fight leading causes of death, suicide support is minimal.

“It’s the only leading cause of death that has been steadily on the rise for decades, with minimal financial support for research, prevention, and education when compared to other leading causes of death,” she said. “Suicide is preventable, and we can save lives, but we can’t do it alone.”

Young said White has asked her to be at the walk-in Newport this year when the collected funds are donated.

The Out of Darkness Walk fundraiser isn’t the only one Young is promoting. She said her sons, Camden, 8, and Jayden, 6, enjoyed being a part of the SAD-SAC fundraiser last year and wanted to help raise money for another animal organization. So her sons have a fundraising container on the counter at Northend Laundromat in Lyndonville raising money for Riverside Rescue in Lunenburg.

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