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Light the Night event in Olympia Fields highlights mental health resources

The SouthtownStar - 10/5/2022

Oct. 5—As she sat at the funeral of her friend's 32-year old son a few months ago, Pam Oliver, of Olympia Fields, knew that she had to do something. The young man had taken his own life, leaving a devastated family and questions.

"I needed to do something to make a difference," Oliver said. "I want people to know that it's OK to say I'm not OK."

After the Olivers' daughter Kristin died in 2020 at age 31 of a rare heart cancer, the family started an annual blood drive and a charitable foundation in Kristin's honor.

Now Pam Oliver wants to help those with mental health issues with a Light the Night event from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Sergeant Means Park, 20712 Western Ave., Olympia Fields.

The event is open to everyone.

"Today, with so many struggling with the stresses and loss brought on by the pandemic, we hope to reach members of our community who may be suffering in silence," Oliver said.

Oliver said she was particularly disturbed by the increasing number of suicides among young people, often brought on by depression, social media and situations such as bullying.

"We want to help parents identify possible warning signs and know where to go for help," Oliver said.

The Light the Night event will include workshops on suicide prevention and creative ways to manage stress. There will also be information about mental health resources in the south suburbs, as well as a performance by dancers from Southland College Prep High School in Richton Park.

Participating organizations include the National Alliance on Mental Illness Chicago and South Suburbs, Sertoma Centre of Matteson, Grand Prairie Services, K-9 for Vets, Downs Fitness, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Cancer Support Center and the Center for Food Equity in Medicine.

A candlelight vigil will remember those who have lost their battle with depression, but also to encourage people to be the light for those who need support.

"We want people to be the light in somebody else's life," Oliver said.


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