St. James teen raises awareness of suicide prevention

Members of ‘Team Mairead’ join overnight fundraising walk to save lives

Mairead and Nora Corrigan
Sisters Mairead and Nora Corrigan shared laughter on Easter Sunday 2011. Photo: Courtesy Nora Corrigan

 

SEATTLE
By Susan Eick

Nora Corrigan is taking to the streets of Seattle to increase awareness about mental illness and suicide prevention, in honor of her older sister.

“I’d love to raise a lot of money … have closure and feel better,” said Nora, 17, a parishioner at St. James Cathedral whose 18-year-old sister, Mairead Corrigan, died by suicide in January.

Nora, accompanied by family members and friends from the cathedral’s youth group will participate as “Team Mairead” (rhymes with “parade”) in Out of the Darkness, a 17-mile overnight community walk in Seattle June 14-15. The walk is sponsored by the American Foundation for the Prevention of Suicide, and the group hopes to raise $11,000 for the organization’s research, education and awareness programs.

“My family and I had a lot of support” after Mairead’s death, Nora said. “Hopefully the walk can be support for people who don’t have it and who are going through something similar.”

Corrigan sisters
The Corrigan sisters, Siobhan, left, Nora, Mairead, and Clare vacationed in Ireland during Christmas 2013.  Photo: Courtesy Nora Corrigan

Mairead was the third of Barrett and Maggie Corrigan’s four daughters. Barrett Corrigan is chairman of the math department at O’Dea High School and the family are longtime members of St. James, where Mairead was a longtime altar server. She graduated from Bishop Blanchet High School in 2013, then attended Seattle Central Community College and worked at Starbucks.

Her sister was “really goofy” and “really dedicated to her friends,” Nora said. Mairead suffered from depression, but “it was hard to tell what she was going through,” Nora said. “She was a good kid.”

Nora, a junior at Garfield High School, said the youth group at St. James has provided her with healing and support. “I have a place where I can express myself freely,” she said.

“Team Mairead” was created by Nora’s cousin Veronica Summer, her aunt Cathy Summer, and the St. James youth group. Joe Cotton, the parish’s youth ministry director, said the youth group’s role is to be there for Nora, walking alongside her. Some of the St. James teens thought the Out of the Darkness walk could be a healing opportunity, but it was Nora who “took the lead,” Cotton said. “It aligned completely with what we wanted to do with her and for her.”

Many parishioners have stepped forward as donors for the walk, led by the example of the Corrigan family, who helped draw the parish community together despite the pain of their loss, Cotton said. “The lesson of the cross is about transferring that pain into goodness,” he said.

Nora stressed the importance of a supportive network of family and friends to help cope with such a loss. “We’re lucky to have such a great community in St. James and O’Dea,” she said.

 

Mairead Corrigan and her father Barrett
Mairead Corrigan and her father, Barrett Corrigan, celebrate her graduation from Bishop Blanchet High School in June 2013. Photo: Courtesy Nora Corrigan

More about Mairead

Learn more about Mairead Corrigan, her faith and the positive impact she had on those around her:

St. James Cathedral homily on Mairead Corrigan

Mairead Corrigan Obituary

Behind the numbers

More than 38,000 suicides were reported in the United States in 2010, or about 105 per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens and young adults. Major depression and other mood disorders are among the most common causes of suicide, according to the American Foundation for the Prevention of Suicide. Learn more at these links:

CDC Violence Prevention Information

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Facts and Figures

Out of Darkness walk

Seattle’s Out of the Darkness walk begins at dusk June 14 at the Seattle Center and ends there at dawn June 15.

For more information or to make a donation, visit http://theovernight.donordrive.com/.

June 11, 2014