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Boston odyssey to honor memory of Wexford man

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Thursday, April 29, 2010
 

Rob Fadzen III of Wexford took his life five years ago, and his family has been trying to make sense of his death ever since.

"It's been an emotional roller-coaster," said his brother, Jon Fadzen, 32, of Green Tree. "One day, you're remembering everything you've done together, and the next day, you're completely miserable."

To honor his brother, Fadzen and his cousin, Lisa Taylor, hope to raise about $3,500 by taking part in "Out of the Darkness Overnight," an 18-mile walk June 26 and 27 in Boston to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

"From the minute I saw it, I knew I wanted to do it with him, and I wouldn't let him do it alone," said Taylor, 32, of Beechview. "I wanted to stand beside him on that journey."

Rob Fadzen, a former police officer for the city Housing Authority, died at age 30. He loved camping, fishing and playing ice hockey.

"What surprised me about it was I always saw him as somebody who loved life so much," Taylor said. "Even the little things seemed important to him, so to see him choose to leave that was difficult to understand."

Why it happens

According to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control, in 2006, suicide claimed the lives of 33,000 Americans.

Ninety percent of people who commit suicide have an underlying mental disorder, such as depression, substance abuse, anxiety or bipolar disorder, said Bob Gebbia, executive director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

"We're all concerned because there is a relationship between depression and suicide, and if people have lost their homes, their work, that could certainly lead them understandably to being depressed," Gebbia said.

Fadzen said his brother was on medication for attention deficit disorder.

Gebbia's group has sponsored the overnight walk since 2002. He expects 2,000 walkers and volunteers this year. He estimates they will raise about $1 million for suicide research, education programs for schools and colleges, and support for families who have lost loved ones.

About two-thirds of those walking in the event have lost someone to suicide, Gebbia said.

"It's a club nobody wants to be in," Taylor said.

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