Running for suicide prevention

    A long-distance runner coming through Philadelphia today has a special mission. Ohio Baseball coach Doug Merrill is running over two-thousand miles across America to raise suicide awareness.

    A long-distance runner coming through Philadelphia today has a special mission. Ohio Baseball coach Doug Merrill is running over two-thousand miles across America to raise suicide awareness.

    Listen:

    [audio:091102msrun.mp3]

    As an adolescent, Doug Merrill lost several friends to suicide. As a coach and teacher, he was devastated by the suicides of four students and players.

    On his way from Boston to the Florida Keys, Merrill runs a half-marathon each day, stopping to talk to young people about suicide and depression. He says he wants to spread hope that recovery from depression is possible:

    Merrill: Their current problem is just that, their current problem, things change. Now, I’m not being naive, I clearly understand that it’s very difficult I had my own bouts with depression myself, but it’s a medical condition.

    He says shame surrounding these issues prevents some people from seeking help:

    Merrill: If I break my leg, I get a cast, I have my friends sign it. If I break my mind, nobody is there to throw me a spaghetti dinner. There is that stigma about mental health and depression, that we can’t share that with anybody. But what I want everybody to understand is – you can beat this, there is tomorrow, there is life twenty years from now!

    Suicide prevention experts agree that the issue of suicide is often shrouded in silence. Pat Gainey is regional director for the American Foundation for the Prevention of Suicide. She says efforts like this one help start a conversation:

    Gainey:
    When there is a suicide, the family feels as if they need to keep that fact a secret. So suicide is a word that really puts fear into people, so it’s not really talked about openly

    Merrill has also solicited sponsors, and hopes to raise 25 million dollars by the end of the run.

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