Suicide Prevention Month: A Walk for Hope, Change & Love – One Mother’s Story

August 29, 2018

Written By

Mary Friona Celani

September is Suicide Prevention Month.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death each year in the United States.  In 2016, there were 44,965 recorded suicides, up from 42,773 in 2014, according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). On average, adjusted for age, the annual U.S. suicide rate increased 24% between 1999 and 2014, from 10.5 to 13.0 suicides per 100,000 people, the highest rate recorded in 28 years.

Each year, suicide claims more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined.

Let that soak in.

Each year, suicide claims more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined. Yet suicide prevention doesn’t receive anywhere near the funding as other leading causes of death. It’s not talked about as often.

It’s time to change that. It’s time to change the conversation about mental health; time to remove the stigma that goes with mental health issues; time to focus on how to help those in need and time to save lives.

Each year – hundreds of thousands of people in cities all across this country walk to raise awareness and funds that can and will save lives. They walk to bring hope. They walk in memory of loved ones. They walk to support those impacted by suicide.

Buffalo’s Suicide Prevention Walk is just a few weeks away.

Regular folks living with profound grief will lace up their shoes and put one foot in front of the other.

People like Pam Beehler.

Pam and Kurt – their last photo together      

Pam lost her son Kurt Beehler, Jr. on April 8, 2017. He was 24-years-old. He was the only child of Kurt and Pam Beehler.

I didn’t know Kurt Beehler – but I know a lot of people who did. Any one of them will tell you that he was kind. He was a good friend. He was fun. He was smart – a software engineer with a computer science degree from Niagara University. He was an athlete. He had a beautiful future ahead of him.

Until he took his own life last April.

His family members and friends  – as one could only imagine – were heartbroken; devastated. Their lives forever shattered.

They can’t get him back, but maybe they can help others.

Pam is walking for her son – and for those like him.

Kurt with his parents at his High School Graduation

“I’m walking to fight suicide and support AFSP’s bold goal to reduce the suicide rate 20% by 2025. I’m walking to fight the stigma behind mental illness. I’m walking to stop the shame and embarrassment felt by those stricken ill. I’m walking if only to stop one more family from the heartache my family now lives with.”


Pam is walking for change.

“For four years I watched my son fight a hard and exhausting battle. He used every last ounce of his energy and I could not be more proud. Kurt was courageous, strong and full of hope for his future. He was smart, funny, hardworking, humble and a wonderful son. Try to remember Kurt for how hard he fought, the intensity with which he lived and not the years he will miss.”

Kurt’s friends remembering him on the one year anniversary of his death.

Pam hopes you’ll walk to, “Let’s walk again in Kurt’s honor and stamp out the stigma behind mental illness and suicide.”

WHAT: Buffalo’s Suicide Prevention Walk

WHEN: September 8, 2018 – Check-in/Registration Time: 8:30 a.m. Walk Begins: 10:30 a.m.  Walk Ends: 1:00 p.m.

WHERE:  Delaware Park

If you would like to make a donation to Pam’s fundraising efforts, you can do so HERE.

Kurt Beehler, Jr was a wonderful son and friend. He had a mental illness; not a flaw, an illness.  He was so much more than how he died.

** Know the Warning Signs of mental illness and those at risk for suicide.

Some warning signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these, seek help by calling the Lifeline.

Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
Talking about being a burden to others
Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
Sleeping too little or too much
Withdrawing or isolating themselves
Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
Extreme mood swings


If you or someone you know needs help – call – 1-800-273-8225


About Me

Welcome to Totally Buffalo! My name is Mary Friona-Celani and I am the creator of this site! After spending 20 years in the Buffalo media, I moved on to focus on my beautiful family. Now, the time has come for a new project. I was ready for something new. Something mine.
I am born and raised in WNY and my pride runs deep. My husband, Scott and I are very happy to be raising our four daughters here.






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