CHATHAM, NJ - There was a special bead ceremony to raise awareness about suicide, where each person wore a certain colored bead in honor of someone who died by suicide on Saturday evening before the "Out of the Darkness" community walk at Cougar Field.
One person participating in the bead ceremony was different from the rest - he was a suicide survivor and he wore green beads to highlight his own struggle. That person was Borough of Chatham Council member Len Resto, who has been outspoken about the bullying he endured nearly 50 years ago, which led to an attempt on his own life.
He was one of the leading fund raisers for the second annual walk, organized by the Chatham Township Committee, who came out to walk and help raise $70,000 that will benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
"It would have been nice to have these type of things in my day," Resto said. "I didn't know of any organization like this.
"I got a call from a friend this morning, whose son, at age 20, attempted suicide last night. We have to fight this and break the stigma. Teenagers are under so much pressure these days with bullying and being made fun of. When it was happening to me, I would go home and it was over. Now, when kids go home, it's on social media and they never escape it."
Borough Council member Len Resto compares the bullying that led him to attempt suicide to the pressures of teens today
Former governor and state senator Richard Codey speaks at Out or the Darkness Walk
Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen talks about suicide being the 10th-leading cause of death in America