Non-Profit Provides Local Help To Those Affected By Suicide

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After the shocking news about the suicide of Robin Williams, volunteers with a prevention group here in northeastern Pennsylvania want to people to know there is help out there.

The local chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention said there is support for both people struggling with depression and their loved ones.

The sudden death of comedian and actor Robin Williams sent shock waves well beyond the entertainment community, hitting home to those who have lost someone to suicide.

One of those people is Barb Mikielski, who lost her brother nearly a decade ago.

"Like every other family we struggled. Why did this happen? Could we have prevented it? What was out there? And at that time I really didn't know the resources," said Mikielski.

Mikielski and friend Denise Rowinski are both on the board of the local chapter of the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention or AFSP.

The non-profit works to provide help to those contemplating suicide, as well as support for people who have lost someone to it.

"For example there are nine support groups in the 12 county region for someone who has lost someone to suicide," said Rowinski.

And over the years the foundation has grown both locally and nationally. It is best known for its annual three to five mile walk, called Out Of The Darkness. Last September, it drew more than 500 people out to Kirby Park.

The walk not only raises money for the cause, it's also meant to lift the stigma off suicide and connect those left behind with this tragedy.

"To bring the hope into the light so that individuals realize: don't be ashamed, because the person next to you may have lost someone. They may have struggled with an addiction," said Rowinski.

"It's a very healing process by being part of the walk, by coming and seeing all the other members, the families, the friends," said Mikielski.

The Out Of The Darkness walk will be held in Kirby Park on September 14. WNEP is a sponsor.

For more information on the walk go to