By Melissa Stagnaro
OXFORD – More than 100 golfers will take to the links Sunday at Oxford’s Blue Stone golf course to bring the conversation about suicide and mental illness out of the darkness and into the light.
It is the sixth year the course will host the event, Team Chenango’s Out of the Darkness Golf Tournament.
Changing the conversation about suicide and mental illness has become a personal mission for event organizer Danielle Marshman.
“Every year suicide claims more lives than war, murder and natural disasters combined, and yet we don’t talk about it,” she explained.
In a small town, she said, people are often even less willing to admit it’s something that can happen close to home. But Marshman, herself a survivor or suicide loss, knows it can.
In 2001 her father Dan, a prominent Oxford dairy farmer and businessman, took his own life.
“It has been 15 years since Dad died by suicide from a disease that can be prevented if we can just start talking about it,” she said.
It was a desire to prevent others from enduring a similar loss that lead Marshman to get involved with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), an organization she discovered as part of her own healing journey.
“AFSP is really the leader in the fight against suicide,” she said. “They fund research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss. All with the goal of reducing the annual suicide rate 20 percent by 2025.”