Motorcyclists raise money for suicide prevention
Help is available for people with mental illnesses and those considering suicide, and no one should be afraid to ask for it.
“You don’t have to be afraid to get help,” said Dave Lautt, of Jamestown.
He and his wife, Beth, had the initial idea for the Ride to Silence the Stigma, after their son, Thomas Avery Doyle, died by suicide at age 22 on Sept. 7, 2013.
“We had two choices. We can curl up and die, or we can be a voice for people who need a voice,” Beth said.
Doyle, a Jamestown High School graduate, had joined the U.S. Army National Guard, been deployed to Kuwait and had been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder .
According to Beth, he was well-loved by family, well-liked by his friends and “his life appeared to be perfect.”
Though his parents had been vigilant on his behalf, everything had seemed to be going well for Doyle — he was a ready mix truck driver for Aggregate Industries and had started up Doyle Contracting in Wahpeton.
“It’s the way society is these days,” Dave said. “You’re not allowed to have mental (health) problems…”
“We want people to know … it’s OK to express those feelings. We shouldn’t have to hide who we are or what we think,” Beth said.
They know they won’t ever get any real answers regarding their son’s death, and they have decided to act to prevent others’ grief by speaking out about suicide and mental illness.
“We’re doing this for everybody who hurts,” Dave said.
Not only is there stigma surrounding people who have tried to kill themselves and survived, but there is also stigma around people whose relatives have died by suicide.
“Someone told me that I didn’t love my son enough,” Beth said.
Part of erasing the stigma around mental illness and suicide is education, said Margo Haut, chairperson of the Ride to Silence the Stigma.
Sunday’s event raised $4,905, which will be split evenly between the national chapter of the foundation and the local chapter. Local funds will be used to start a support group and to supplement education and prevention work at Jamestown High School.
“The biker community … has hearts of gold,” Beth said. “Their voice is louder than ours will ever be. They’re helping us.”
While many local businesses and individuals supported the event, the three main sponsors were Stutsman Harley-Davidson, IDK and Newman Signs.
“We host five rides out of here a year, and every ride is a benefit to an organization,” said John Seifert, general manager at Stutsman Harley-Davidson. The business serves as host “to enjoy the weekends, for publicity, just showing that people at Harley-Davidson care about people who ride motorcycles.”
Seifert thanked everyone for supporting the ride, and the local AFSP for putting it together, as well as all those supporting the event.
Before the ride began, participants gathered and released white balloons into the sky, some with messages written on them — messages of hope, determination and love.
On Beth’s balloon was a simple note: “I LOVE YOU TOM!”
Fargo will have its own Ride to Silence the Stigma Saturday, with check-in between noon and 1 p.m., when the ride begins at Harley-Davidson of Fargo, in West Fargo. Registration is $25. A dinner and dance will follow for a freewill offering.
For more information, call (701) 799-0498.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a free, 24/7 service that supports people who are suicidal or those around them, can be reached at (800) 273-8255.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org