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Lanie's Hope

Gambling Addiction Suicide: The “Inner Circle”

September 14, 2013
Bea Aikens, Founder Lanie’s Hope

I’m not one for exclusive memberships or inner circles. Yes, there was a day when my head was turned by private clubs and the trappings of privilege   I once took great joy in knowing that I was a part of Neiman Marcus’ exclusive In Circle, where I had the great privilege of overpaying for all sorts of frivolous things… earning me In Circle “perks” like free sample product swag, attendance at private events, and even a personal shopper who knew me by name.

No longer.  As a woman of a certain age, with a great deal of life experience under my belt, the phrase “inner circle,” now means a group of friends so dear to me that I would trust them with my life! They know my inner most thoughts, my quirks and shortcomings and they love and accept me unconditionally.  Now THAT’S a group worth belonging to!

I belong to the group of family members impacted by gambling addiction suicide

Today…well today… I was unexpectedly invited to join an “inner circle” that I didn’t realize I already belonged to. I never signed up for it. I didn’t WANT to belong to this group… and yet… I do, in fact, belong. I belong to the group of family members impacted by suicide, and the Memorial Circle that was held at the 2013 Walk in Memory-Walk for Hope.

Of course I knew I was at the Bob Miller Middle School to participate in a walk-a-thon and, yes, I knew the purpose of the event. Yet I was taken completely off guard when called to enter  “The Circle.” You see I went to the event to support the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling, to represent Lanie’s Hope and support a worthy cause. The mission of furthering support and services for those impacted by gambling addiction is never far from my mind. It is my life’s purpose and daily focus.

And yet…the WHY of it…the foundation of Lanie’s Hope and our beginnings have softened with the passing of time. I don’t spend every day in tears, or asking God “Why”… I do what I do, and hope to make a difference “One soul at a time.”

Today… MY soul was the one touched when Linda Flatt hosted the Memorial Circle at the Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention’s Walk in Memory.  This elegant, humble woman shared her own story of loss and pain. Then she invited other parents who had lost a child to suicide to join her “in the circle.”  So many parents joined her on that gymnasium floor. It took my breath away… and sucker punched me with the reminder of my why.  “Oh dear God,” I thought… “I’m part of the circle.”

My tears began to flow, and my dear friend Amber, who cried along with me, embraced me.  Linda then invited children who had lost their parents to suicide to join the circle.  Too many.  WAY too many hurting souls joined hands and hearts as the circle grew. Next…spouses who lost their partner to suicide. And then those who lost a sibling to suicide. That was me. It was my turn to join the circle.

With tears flowing for those who joined the circle before me, memories of my precious sister Lanie washing over me, and my dear chosen sister Carol O’Hare clutching my hand and proclaiming, “She was my sister too,” we joined the Memorial Circle.

And I was reminded of the Inner Circle to which I belong.  The Inner Circle that I never want another family member of a compulsive gambler to join. The Inner Circle that weighs on my heart, gives me my reason for being and purpose every day.  I cannot decide to quit this circle. I cannot determine that my values have changed and I no longer choose this circle. This is my circle.

And so..I walk on and Lanie’s Hope presses on, in furtherance of our mission to illuminate the disease of gambling disorder and serve as a catalyst for social change for problem gamblers and their families. I cannot promise there will be no more Lanie’s.  There will be. Gambling Addiction suicides are painfully prevalent.  Problem Gamblers have the highest suicide rate of any addiction group.

The Nevada Council on Problem Gambling continues to advance its mission of educating and providing resources for problem gambling. The Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention raises awareness, teaches prevention and hosts events so that people like me who are in the circle will have the opportunity to do everything within our power to speak out, educate, close ranks and help keep others from joining the circle.

If you, or someone you love suffers from a Gambling Problem, please call the 24-Hour Helpline at 1-800-522-4700.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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5 Comments

  1. Karen LeeSeptember 16, 2013 at 4:11 pmReply

    Beautiful, touching, and eloquently written, Bea and I could feel your pain and loss of dear Lanie. Your work with Lanie’s Hope and the amount of hope you bring to so many lost souls touches my heart and I’m grateful to be an integral part to help others, so that they or their family members do not have to belong to that ‘inner circle’. As you mention in your post, gambling addiction has one of the highest suicide rates of any addiction. What is more frightening to fathom are the number of deaths that are not correctly identified nor attributed to a gambling addiction. Thank you for your message and your untiring efforts to make a difference ‘one soul at a time’.

    • Bea AikensSeptember 16, 2013 at 5:01 pmReplyAuthor

      Karen
      Thank you for all YOU do in furthering the message and supporting Lanie’s Hope as well as Pay Hope Forward. And you’re right about deaths not attributed to gambling addiction. Lanie’s death was deemed a cerebral infarction. No mention of gambling or pills. I heard today that EIGHTEEN(18) suicides are attributed to gambling PER WEEK in Clark County! PER WEEK! And those are the ones identified as such. The real numbers are unfathomable!
      We will keep beating the drum and raising awareness.
      Blessings,
      Bea

  2. TreySeptember 16, 2013 at 5:23 pmReply

    We all stand in many circles and all of our circles intersect. We need people to stand up and say its okay to talk about what is scary. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful considerate citizens can change the world, indeed its the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead. Cataclysmic floods begin when lots of drops get together to become a deluge. What a wonderful journey.

    • Bea AikensSeptember 16, 2013 at 5:47 pmReplyAuthor

      Beautifully put Trey. Thank you for sharing your insight and the perfect quote by Margaret Mead! We can indeed change the world…as I always say…one soul at a time.

  3. Linda FlattSeptember 20, 2013 at 2:33 pmReply

    Dear Bea,

    Your blog was read during the NV Coalition for Suicide Prevention meeting this morning, and I was moved by the eloquent account of your experience at Walk in Memory – Walk for Hope on Saturday . It always does my heart good to know that sharing my personal story reaches others on their healing journey. I was honored to introduce Paul to you and over 900 suicide survivors and prevention advocates that morning. Thank you for your kind words and the important work you and those at the Problem Gambling Council do. I welcome you with love into the “Inner Circle” – where none of us wants to be – but are blessed to be in caring, compassionate company.

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A Compelling and Passionate Speaker
Bea Aikens couples her personal experience with extensive knowledge of the disease of compulsive gambling to build a compelling platform for civic, community and national organizations seeking knowledge and understanding of the disease of disordered gambling. To engage Bea for your upcoming event, contact her at
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Lanie's Hope
P.O. Box 60214
Boulder City, NV 89006
702.812.1922
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