Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds. For one local family that’s not just a statistic.
In the summer of 2011, Ken and Patti Shore Kaden lost their 17-year-old son Jonathan to suicide when he was stuck by a train. For these parents grieving gave way to hope.
“You just keep going and realize that you still want to be here, and that is probably the brightest light of all to go towards,” says Patti. “The fact that I love my l life, I love everything about it, and unfortunately, that’s not the way Jonathan felt. To keep him alive, to keep his spirit alive you have to keep going.”
After getting through their difficult first year, Jonathan’s parents organized a play in his honor to raise money for the American Association of Suicidology.
The play, “A Long Way Down,” is based on the novel of the same name by British author Nick Hornby. The four main characters meet on a London rooftop on New Years Eve where they all plan to commit suicide.
Jonathan’s father always knew he wanted to honor his son’s life in a theatrical way.
“The fact of the matter is if people feel more free to reach out, I think we can do some good,” says Ken. “That was part of the point of the play is that people don’t feel the stigma attached for their own depression, and feel more free to talk about it and reach out and more can be done to stop it.”
The production took a heavy topic and showed the audience that sometimes laughter is the best medicine.
“Jonathan had a wonderful sense of humor, which is one of the reasons I wanted to use a comedy. I think there was a lot of laughter in the piece,” says Ken.
“We couldn’t find that laughter in the first year,” says Patti. “But after that first year of experiencing everything for the first time then the laughter can really start to be a part of life again, because it was Jonathan and he is part of our lives, always will be.”
The theatrical fundraiser brought in over $10,000 for suicide awareness. The Kaden’s are hoping to continue keeping suicide in the spotlight by expanding the reach of their show. Jonathan’s memory will continue to live on stage raising money to help others.
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