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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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  Deb Kocieniewski – Mother who lost her son, Andrew, to suicide  Q: Why are you here today?  “I am here today because my son, Andrew, died by suicide in December of 2023.”  Q: What does having a walk like this mean for you personally? “For me, I feel like I’m not alone…. But also, I want to be here to support everyone who might be struggling, or know of someone who might be struggling. It builds a nice sense of community and togetherness and help.” Q: What can we do on an individual level to talk with people who are struggling with these issues? “For me, the most important thing to help others is just to continue reaching out just to be kind, to ask people how they’re doing. To reach out in any little way to anyone can make a huge difference to try and get people to open up about how they’re feeling or to just give them hope that someone’s there for them.” Q: How do we begin to destigmatize issues around mental health?  “I think the best way is to talk about it. To make it a topic of conversation, not hide your experiences or how you feel and make it become more commonplace, so that it’s just part of the normal conversations in everyday lives.” Q: Is there anything you’d like to share with the UB community today?  “I would ask everyone to continue to stay strong. If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out for any help if you need it. There’s always someone there to listen, and someone to help you. It could be someone you’d least expect, but there’s always love from others. Just continue to fight and continue to fight for those that are in your life.” Q: Is there anything you’d like people to know about your son?  “My son, Andrew, was amazing. He was a teacher’s aide at Randolph Academy dealing with behavioral problem children. He gave his life and love to everyone. And he was a great brother. He did struggle with mental health, and he knew it and did seek help along the way. And we just miss him dearly.”

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