Two local mothers say suicide is a preventable epidemic

September is National Suicide Prevention Month and two Canandaigua mothers are working to raise awareness about mental health.

Cindy Newman and Donna Besler both lost their sons to suicide, one of the leading causes of death in the United States — the second leading among young people.

Besler and Newman started support groups, and they hope to let others know they aren't alone.

Evan Crowther, Newman's son, loved music. He even signed a recording contract, but a few months ago everything changed.

"I lost my son Evan, just two weeks after his 26th birthday this past March, to suicide," Newman said.

Newman didn't know Evan was suffering.

"It's one of those things and there's no way to describe how it affects you ... how it feels," Newman said.

That's a pain Besler knows too well. Her son, Brennan Besler, killed himself in November of 2014 at age 19, but the wounds are still open.

"In my son's goodbye letter, he asked me to reach out to family and friends," Besler said. "He didn't want anyone to feel the way he felt, he journaled."

These moms are on a mission to raise awareness about what they call a preventable epidemic.

"People don't talk about suicide, it's not a subject that is discussed in any kind of group," Newman said. "I want to end that and reach out to people."

Besler teaches workshops to empower parents with the tools to help.

"It's about what signs to look for when you do assume something is wrong, or you hear those words, what to do next," Besler said.

Besler hopes their work will spark a change and make a difference.

"Worldwide every 40 seconds somebody is dying from suicide, Besler said. "Something more needs to be done, and I'm very passionate in making sure something happens," she said.

An "Out of the Darkness Walk" will take place on Sept. 23 at Genesee Valley Park in Rochester. There is another in Canandaigua on Sept. 30.

The Survivors of Suicide Loss (SOS) support group meets every first and third Monday at 6 p.m. at Wood Library, 134 N. Main St., Canandaigua. If you need help, you can text "Talk" to 741741.