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!
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).