Sag Harbor native Jenna Salsedo will join thousands in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Out of the Darkness Community Walk in New York City on Sunday in memory of her uncle Marc Salsedo, who was a partner in Vincenzo's Pizza in Sag Harbor. Her team, Make Your Marc, wants to raise $2,500 for research, advocacy, education and prevention initiatives to reduce the loss of life from suicide.
Salsedo tells Patch more about what the walk means to her and her family:
Q: You are walking in memory of you uncle. Please tell us a little bit about him.
My uncle was loud—in a good way. His laugh echoed from his belly and filled a room. He was infectious. His passion for music always inspired me. He played by ear an array of instruments, but had an affinity for the bass guitar. He was our family’s rock star, really. He lived a very fast paced life, always traveling, moving around. My uncle tragically took his own life at the tender age of 43 in November of 2010. He lived in Rocky Point, but frequented the East End to visit family and his business.
Q: What was it like for you and your family to lose your uncle?
It was devastating and shocking. As cliché as it sounds—you don’t believe it can happen to you. He was trying to get his life back in order. Like anyone who looses a loved one, you try to search for answers, a reason, but to no avail. In the wake of this tragedy, I felt the support of loved ones, friends and my extended community. But as the dust settled and reality set it, death can really weigh on a family. Holidays are bittersweet. But the hardest part is the idle afternoon when I could just use an ‘uncle Marc laugh.’
Q: Have you known anyone else who has taken their own life?
Suicide holds such a stigma. Before my uncle’s passing, suicide was not in my vocabulary. But after he died? It seemed as if it was unavoidable. The word carries much more weight now.
Q: How did you get involved with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention?
The year following my uncle’s death was very difficult, and each family member dealt with it in their own way. About a week before 2011’s walk, my Aunt Jennifer, had read about the walk online. We quickly signed up; just the two of us to see what it was about. We spent a lovely fall afternoon walking over the Brooklyn Bridge remembering Marc. What we were so surprised to see was the outpouring of support that this foundation had. We knew instantly that by next year, we could rally up the troops and help honor my uncle.
Q: Describe what it means to you to take part in this walk in memory of your uncle.
My uncle had a presence, such a voice. He loved to sing and be heard and what better way to honor him than to create a team in his memory. Taking place in this walk helps me remember my uncle, but more importantly I hope it brings enough awareness to spare another family from this tragedy.
Q: The East Hampton community is still reeling from the loss of a 16-year-old who took his own life recently. Is there anything you can share with others about getting through such a tragedy? Any advice?
Raising awareness about suicide is the single most important step to improving our understanding of suicide and the ways to prevent it. In the U.S. a person dies by suicide every 14.2 minutes and it claims the lives over 36,000 people each year. It’s estimated that an attempt is made every minute. This public health issue does not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity or social economic status—we are all effected. Ninety-five percent of people who take their own life are suffering from mental illness, depression, substance abuse, anxiety, etc. Once people start to recognize that suicide is the result of a medical condition and not a sign of weakness or character defect it will change.
Q: Who else is walking with you this Sunday?
My family is walking with me this Sunday, as well as close friends.
Q: The money you raised - $2,000 so far - will go towards what exactly?
Money raised by my team and the event will support AFSP’s effort in scientific research, invest in educational programs and ideally reduce loss of life from suicide. The AFSP is at the forefront of research, advocacy education and prevention initiatives and proceeds will continue to raise awareness.
Q: How can readers make donations to your team?