SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Suicide impacts families all across South Dakota.
People will gather in Sioux Falls this weekend to remember their loved ones and help save lives.
It’s been more than a year since James Gaspar lost his father to suicide.
James worked with his dad Gary, one of the second-generation owners of Interstate Office Products in Sioux Falls.
“He had been struggling with his mental health for several months and we were, as a family, dealing with the difficulty of managing his health, both the physical issues he had as well as the depression and anxiety he was dealing with,” Gaspar said.
Gaspar says suicide is a shocking, difficult death to deal with, often leaving families with a sense of guilt.
“Ultimately, with suicide, you can’t really give that responsibility to the family or to the friends. In the end, there’s nothing you could’ve done to prevent that death,” Gaspar said.
James will be the keynote Saturday morning at the Helpline Center’s Step Forward to Prevent Suicide.
The event will include a remembrance ceremony and a walk.
“It’s important to keep those memories and those people’s names alive just because the way in which they died does not define the way in which they lived,” Helpline Center suicide loss & support coordinator Wendy Mamer said.
James will share Gary’s story and the impact he had on his family, his business, and the community
“He was someone that was always called to service, to community service, serving on non-profit boards, and his career of achievement was serving on the Avera Health board of trustees and was the board’s chair at the time of his death,” Gaspar said.
He hopes that his message will help prevent other families from dealing with this same kind of loss.
“Dealing with that suicide loss was difficult. It really weighed on myself and other family members for a long time and continues to do so, but the depth of pain and grief that we felt is something that I or my family don’t want others to have to experience in the future,” Gaspar said.
The event starts at 9:00 AM this Saturday at the Raven Amphitheater downtown.
If your or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, call 988.