Walk in Memory/Walk for Hope- Sept 12, 2015 8AM, Bob Miller Middle School
Lanie’s Hope Founder, Bea Aikens, to present Keynote Address on gambling addiction and suicide at the 2015 Walk in Memory/Walk for Hope
Gambling Addiction will be the focus of the 2015 Suicide Prevention Community Walk, Saturday September 12, 2015 at Bob Miller Middle School, 2400 Cozy Circle, Henderson, NV. The suicide rate among untreated problem gamblers is extraordinarily high. Experts report than 20% of all problem gamblers who actually seek treatment have attempted or considered suicide; a correlation I am all too familiar with.
Many of you know that I lost my sister Lanie due to a gambling-related overdose in June of 2008. See…I still can’t actually say the words “Lanie committed suicide because of her gambling addiction.” I always find myself couching this phrase in indirect ways like “a gambling-related overdose.” In my heart of hearts, do I think she intentionally killed herself. No. I think she was in such immense pain and shame that she simply didn’t want to FEEL anything. But we’ll never know, because Lanie’s not here to tell her story. What I do know is this. If Lanie hadn’t been gambling, she would not have overdosed. If Lanie had continued to abstain from gambling and attend the recovery fellowship she belonged to, she would not have had to endure the shame and despair that drove her to overdose on antidepressants. Gambling Addiction DID cost my sister her life.
…And…it cost me my best friend. It cost her daughter and son the loss of a mother whom they loved dearly. It cost her grandson Colby to lose “Grandma Lanie” whom he still speaks of with such love and longing, even though he was only 3 years old when she died. It cost her the opportunity to ever know her Granddaughter “Lyla Lanie” or her Great Granddaughter who has come into our family since Lanie died. Lane died at the age of 52. She was a lung cancer survivor! She survived 9 years post chemotherapy, only to succumb to a disease that is so insidious that no one knew she was still struggling with the addiction. We (her family and loved ones) thought she was in recovery. We thought she hadn’t gambled in years.
We were wrong. The disease of compulsive gambling is cloaked in secrecy and shame. The Suicide Prevention Coalition uses the term “Out of the Darkness” to describe their mission: taking suicide out of the darkness and into the light. The same philosophy must be applied to gambling addiction. When we illuminate the disease and raise awareness that gambling addiction (so often undetected as there are no tell-tail signs like slurred speech or a staggered walk) is a recognized mental health issue requiring treatment and therapy like any other addiction, we take it “out of the darkness.” This is my prayer, and this is the mission of Lanie’s Hope; to humanize and illuminate the disease of compulsive gambling.
I am honored and humbled have been asked to serve as the Keynote Speaker at this year’s event. I still don’t know what I will say. I’m sure I will talk about Lanie. I’m sure I will speak of the numerous cries for help we receive on this website from people who feel there is no way out and no hope. I pray for the right words and that God will speak through me. There are so many who have suffered a loss…not all at the hands of a gambling addiction; and I want to honor and uplift all families, friends and community members.
We all share a common thread – we have been touched by suicide. And we all are united in raising the banner for Hope, for education, for awareness and prevention. We speak out and we walk because we don’t want another family to lose their “Lanie.” I invite each of you to walk with us on Saturday, September 13th. Walk in Memory. Walk in Hope as we take suicide and gambling addiction out of the darkness and into the light.
To Register to Walk with Lanie’s Hope Team, Go to the “Merchandise” page, Select “Walk in Memory” and follow the prompts to register. There is no cost to register.
Kindly consider “wearing our colors” and proudly identifying yourself as part of “Team Lanie’s Hope!” T-shirts and apparel are available on the “Merchandise” page. Use promotional code “walk” to receive special pricing for this event!