WARREN - About 50 people who have lost loved ones to suicide gathered recently at Courthouse Square in Warren to remember their family members and to raise awareness of the issues surrounding suicide.
The sixth annual Survivors of Suicide Awareness Walk honored the memories of loved ones who committed suicide. The names of those who died were read, and a large banner showed the many faces of those who were lost.
Cathy Grizinski, local event coordinator, said it is important to bring awareness to suicide, because it is very difficult for family members and loved ones to get through.
"Suicide is a unique grief to go through. There are always questions about why did it happen? There is also a lot of stigma from the community and society with people often judging,'' she said.
Grizinski said for the gathering the names of those who have died from suicide were read.
''Any family member who wanted to contact us was welcome to give us a name of a family member,'' he said.
Grizinski said suicide is now the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States when it used to be 11th.
A total of 36,000 people a year nationwide take their own lives. In Trumbull County, there were 32 last year and around 30 in Mahoning County.
"Suicide is greater than the homicide rate and it is often kept quiet,'' she said.
Grizinski said as part of National Mental Health Awareness Month the event was held, and while it is known that people who are depressed may not be suicidal, people who are suicidal may be depressed.
Brenda Naylor of Tionesta, Pa., said she lost her sister Jackie Schultz of Warren to suicide last June.
She said the event is an opportunity for her to come to Trumbull County to be with others who have gone through what she has.
''It has been almost one year since I lost my sister... An event like this is great for the community and helps the families because they all have so many questions of why did this happen and what could I have done,'' Naylor said.
Naylor said her sister suffered from mental illness.
She said living away from Warren she is not able to attend support meetings but wanted to be at the vigil.
''I never realized suicide was as high a percentage as it was,'' Naylor said.
She said family members should try to do what they can to help someone get therapy if they are able.
Mary Kopiak of Warren said her daughter, Valerie Kopiak, committed suicide 14 years ago at age 31.
"When my daughter died, a part of me was taken away and went with her,'' said Kopiak, who helps coordinate the vigil.
"When people out there lose a loved one to other kinds of deaths or if they are a victim of homicide or a car wreck, they are glorified as a saint, but when it is suicide and taking of their own life, there is a stigma and pointing of fingers,'' Kopiak said.
She said events such as this do provide comfort and help people.
''It is a comfort to be with others going through this. It will be with me forever,'' she said. "I am not as mad at the world as I was before. I went through so many emotions. Don't be afraid to talk to someone and ask what is wrong.''
Kopiak said she found her daughter unconscious and later learned she had taken more than 100 pills. She was on life support 11 days before she died.
"I don't want any other mother to go through this," Kopiak said.
Those needing help can contact Help Hotline or 211 in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana.