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“In school, he was popular, athletic, and I was always proud to have him as my brother. As he got older, I sometimes thought he was a little moody, but never in my wildest dreams did it occur to me that my brother might be suffering from depression and would ultimately die from it. “
– Lynda Ganley Andree
It struck me to hear a parent say that if a child dies from an illness, people know how to express condolences. But if a child dies from suicide, as was the case for the parent who emailed me today, then folks just aren’t sure what to say. Depression and suicide are still so taboo.
“AIDS was taboo, now it is openly discussed. I want the same to happen when it comes to depression and suicide. I want people to learn the signs of depression,” that’s what Jim Ganley told me today via email.
Jim is the Chief Operating Officer of Fox Pan-American Sports, a media executive who suffered the loss of his only son Jimmy who died five years ago at the age of 22 due to undiagnosed depression.
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“Deciding what to do and how to do it is very complicated. I have worked in the media business my whole life and figured that there must be a way to use what I have learned and the people I have met to make a difference,” Ganley said.
That’s how Ganley and his family founded The Ganley Foundation, a 501C(3) organization that teaches about depression and challenges the stigmas that prevent intervention and treatment.
His daughter Laura is planning to run the 26.2-mile New York Marathon on November 1, in honor of her brother.
“Losing my brother has caused immense sadness in my life. I miss his huge smile, sarcastic wit, generous heart and calming spirit. I miss the way he used to make fun of the silly things my Mom, Sister and I would do. I miss his big bear hugs,” Laura says.
She also tries not to think about the “what ifs”. “What if I had known that depression is the number one cause of suicide?” she asks. “That suicide remains the third cause of death for all youth ages 10-24, second cause of death for college students, and that there are warning signs”.
“As race day draws near I am nervous, yet mostly excited because I know that with every stride I take I am helping raise awareness to those millions of people throughout the world who suffer with depression every day” Laura adds.
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