Posted by Neighborhood Church

There is a team from Neighborhood Church who will walk in the upcoming Out of the Darkness Walk in Pasadena on Saturday, November 4th. We are Team Lukas.

We are walking to raise awareness of suicide and the need for suicide prevention. On average, there are 121 suicides a day; suicide takes more lives than war, murder and natural disasters combined and yet doesn’t receive anywhere near the funding given to other leading causes of death.

We walk because we have been touched by suicide. On November 8, 2012 – nearly five years ago – Lukas Pender was lost to all of us to suicide. Lukas was an active member of the church’s youth group and is deeply missed by this community.

We walk together to not only resurrect Lukas and continue loving him but to be in community with others as they resurrect loved ones lost to suicide.

The walk is in Pasadena and will be along Colorado Boulevard. You may sign up online to support Team Lukas. If you can’t make the walk, you may sign up to walk virtually. Dogs are welcome to walk, too.

One reason we are walking is to raise awareness of suicide and the need for suicide prevention. On average, there are 121 suicides a day; suicide takes more lives than war, murder and natural disasters combined and yet doesn’t receive anywhere near the funding given to other leading causes of death.

Another important reason we walk is that we have been touched by suicide. On November 8, 2012 – nearly five years ago – Lukas Pender was lost to all of us to suicide. Lukas was an active member of the church’s youth group and is deeply missed by this community.

Two books Lukas was reading at the time of his death include: The New Jim Crow and a John Coltrane biography. He started reading both of those books when he was still 15! The story behind Lukas reading The New Jim Crow is a favorite of his mother, Susan: when he was preparing to go to the UUA General Assembly that summer, Susan and Lukas had a lot of discussions about many things. Susan told him she would be giving him some spending money; mostly for food, but he could also spend a certain amount while he was there on extras – maybe some souvenirs. These discussions were about making sure to ration out the money carefully so he had enough money for food every day and didn’t run out by spending too much on those “extras.” You see, Lukas suffered from several processing disorders throughout his childhood. Time and spatial issues were quite difficult for him sometimes. Susan thought maybe an “extra” he might want would be along the lines of a t-shirt. No, not Lukas.

One of the days during his time at GA, he called Susan while she was at work and he was so excited! He wanted to tell her all about a talk he had gone to by Michelle Alexander that was enthralling to him. He was calling Susan to not only share his enthusiasm for what he’d learned from Michelle Alexander, but he wanted to ask if it was “ok” if he used some of his spending money to buy the book, “The New Jim Crow.” “Of course!” Susan told him, “That is absolutely fine with me!” This book and Michelle Alexander’s talk prompted many lively discussions between Lukas and Susan over the next few months. The night he came home from GA, he almost kept Susan up all night discussing so much of what he’d experienced and learned about while he was there. At one point he announced, “I know now for sure that I’m a UU Mom!” Lukas also loved to refer to a copy of “A People’s History of the United States” which also prompted many lively discussions about history and Social justice.

We walk in loving support of Susan Pender. Susan shared this quote which helps her. “I hope you will understand that suicide is not a single, quiet thing you do only to yourself. Rather it is like pulling a pin on a hand grenade while you are surrounded by everyone who knows you.”

Susan loves her son, Lukas and wants our love and memory of Lukas to live on through actions and words. We walk to reduce the stigma of suicide so that other learn not to say, “committed suicide” as if it is a crime. We talk about losing Lukas to suicide as we would to losing Lukas to cancer. He is lost but not forgotten and we speak his name again and again to resurrect his memory and to continue loving him.

SUSAN’S WORDS: “Suicide gave me PTSD and severe anxiety, but don’t be afraid to speak to me. Please, please, please don’t be afraid to talk to me or ask me anything about Lukas. There have been many times since November 8, 2012 that I’ve started to talk about Lukas and others around me immediately changed the subject. To all you parents out there, I’m sure you can’t imagine a time when you wouldn’t be able to talk about your children, say your child’s name out loud, or hear your child’s name spoken aloud.”

Please consider supporting Team Lukas. Please take a moment and say his name aloud. Thank you.