“Death itself is not always a sad ending, but suicide is. Suicide is a tragedy. It ends sadly for everyone,” said W. Scott Gould, deputy secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, at an annual conference on suicide prevention sponsored by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
It takes amazing courage to speak about losing a loved one to death by suicide. It takes even more courage to share this experience in front of an audience of more than 1,000 service members, veterans, clinicians and community leaders. A panel of five brave suicide survivors did just that with the hope that their stories of loss would help others and benefit suicide prevention programs.
The panelists included Army Col. Robert McLaughlin, garrison commander at Fort Carson, Colo., and childhood friend of a service member who took his own life. McLaughlin detailed the personal and professional impact the loss of his friend had on him. Also, Kimberli Walker, who lost her husband, Army Capt. Shawn Walker in 2009; Robert Bagosy, who lost his son, Marine Sgt. Thomas Bagosy at Camp Lejeune, N.C. last year; and Carolyn Colley, whose brother, Army Spc. Stephen Colley died in 2007 at Fort Hood, Texas, all shared their stories.