WESTFIELD – Lisa Schenke lost her 18-year-old son, Tim, to suicide in 2008 when he stepped in front of a commuter train. Tim Schenke’s death was the first of 10 suicides by teenagers and young adults over four years in Southern Monmouth County, what has been called a suicide cluster.
Lisa Schenke will share the tale of Tim’s spiral toward suicide and her recovery from his death when she serves as the keynote speaker at the 2013 Call of Hope Gala of CONTACT We Care, the crisis hotline and suicide prevention trainer headquartered in Westfield. The Gala is being held Thursday, October 24, at the Primavera Regency at 1080 Valley Road in Stirling.
“WITHOUT TIM: A Son’s Fall to Suicide, A Mother’s Rise from Grief” tells of Lisa Schenke’s recovery from Tim’s death as she reflects on her personal growth, her family’s progress and the trauma the community was facing due to the rash of suicides that followed Tim’s death. She realized she had a story to tell and wanted to share facts and feelings about Tim’s life and the struggles he experienced.
In the memoir Schenke toggles back and forth in perspective from before Tim’s death to after, sharing with the reader both his childhood and teen years, including his triumphs as scholar and athlete as well as his insecurities as a teenager and his struggle with substance abuse and depression. The result is a complex tapestry, weaving together the facts that can be known with the questions that will always remain unanswerable.
Schenke now devotes much of her time to suicide prevention through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walks and through one-on-one, supportive conversations and referrals. She also directs You’re Designed to Shine, a program to inspire young women to identify their dreams, have faith and develop the tools to achieve their goals.
“We are so honored to have Lisa Schenke speaking at our gala this year,” said Joanne Oppelt, CONTACT We Care executive director. “Her story of loss, survival and strength will be a very powerful addition to the evening. Teenage suicide is a tragedy of enormous proportion and denies society one our most precious citizens. At CONTACT we launched our Save Our Youth campaign in 2012 and reach into schools in an effort to fight this very serious problem. Having Lisa share her story and perspective will provide even greater energy to our cause.”
CONTACT We Care also is honoring several community supporters at the gala. Novartis Pharmaceuticals is being honored as Citizen of the Year; Investors Bank is being recognized as Business Partner of the Year; and Thomas Phelan, Esq., will receive the Excellence in Community Service Award. Dr. Gerald Glasser is being named Humanitarian of the Year in memoriam.
Sponsoring the event are: Platinum Sponsor – Novartis Pharmaceuticals; Gold Sponsors – PSE&G, General Plumbing Supply, The James Ward Mansion and Investors Bank; Silver Sponsor – Eastern Dental; Bronze Sponsor – Celgene Corporation.
CONTACT We Care serves Central and Northern New Jersey and is a primary responder to calls to the national suicide prevention line (1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-SUICIDE) that originate in New Jersey. Callers also reach CONTACT by dialing 908-232-2880 or texting “CWC” to 839863. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer listener should contact Sue Fasano at 908-301-1899.
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