Annual survivors walk honors loved ones lost to suicide

WARREN – Even the clouds respected the love that was shared Saturday by those who have lost loved ones to suicide.

The rain subsided for a while as the seventh-annual Survivors of Suicide Awareness Walk began Saturday at the Trumbull County Courthouse Gazebo in Warren, and the sun peered from behind the clouds in an attempt to dry some tears.

Mary Kopiak of Warren said the dreary day made the loss of her daughter, Valerie, that much heavier despite it having been 15 years.

But as the sun started to show, she had her own theory: “I think Valerie and the rest of them up there have had enough of the rain,” she said.

Still, she would have liked to see more people attend the yearly event.

“I love my Val and the rest (of the victims),” she said.

More than 50 names were read Saturday, and nearly 30 people were in attendance.

Merial Price spoke of her daughter, Heather Papayoti, who jumped from the Memorial Bridge at the Hoover Dam on Jan. 10. She was 42 years old and was described by Price as her “miracle baby.”

“She had a beautiful smile. She was a loving, caring person. I miss her terribly,” she said.

Sierra Frantz, 20, of Warren, was only 15 months old when her father, Chad Frantz, died.

For Anna Fedoruk, 19, of McDonald, the loss was much more recent. She attended Saturday’s walk in memory of her father, James Fedoruk, who died just four months ago.

Michael O’Brien, 22, of Chardon, was there to remember his uncle, Paul Schneider, and a friend of the family, Jeff Lokach.

“It’s made me realize what (suicide) does to people, what it does to the families,” he said.

One of the biggest reasons for the annual walk is to get the support of not only survivors, but other members of the community as well, said Cathy Grizinski, associate director of Help Hotline Crisis Center / Trumbull 211.

“We want people to understand what it is that grieving individuals go through when they lose someone to suicide. We’re all sharing the loss,” she said.

O’Brien had some advice for people who have not committed suicide but might be considering it.

“Immerse yourselves with something positive. The worst thing you can do is sit by yourself thinking about it,” he said.