SUPERIOR, WI– The Gondik Law Speedway in Superior is working hard to raise awareness of suicide prevention and eliminating mental health stigma in the community.
Friday night, during a special racing event, hundreds gathered at the track to show their support for the cause. But for one family, it all hits very close to home.
People suffering from mental health issues in silence is becoming all too common nationwide.
“Really when you think about mental health, you don’t think about coming to the racetrack,” says Dana Stroschein, organizer of the racing event and psychotherapist specializing in suicide prevention and assessment.
The Superior Speedway is striving to bring suicide and mental health awareness to places you wouldn’t commonly talk about it. Stroschein says, “we want to normalize those thoughts and kind of break the stigma because talking about it is really the only way we’re ever going to prevent it.”
Friday night, the track hosted the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Race to shed light on this important yet often avoided topic. “Study’s have shown that by talking about it, verbalizing it reduces your chances of completing suicide by 80%.
But for the mother of Charlie Robinson, the topic is all too personal. “May 5th, 2018, my 15-year-old son took his life,” says Cheryl Riedash.
When a local race car driver, James Vendela, approached Charlie’s mom Cheryl, she was honored.
She says, “he asked if in Charlie’s memory he could use Charlie’s football number on his car and also make these fantastic decals and then also use the suicide prevention symbol as well.”
Vendela races with the number 15 on his car to honor Charlie. He partnered with another race car driver in Flordia who rides with the number and decal as well.
Friday’s races honored and remembered people around the Northland who died by suicide by presenting trophies in their names. Riedash says, “Charlie isn’t forgotten. People still think about Charlie and it also means that people who maybe are struggling you know with their mental health, they know that there is help.”
A community supporting those who feel hopeless, aiming to make them feel less alone in with their thoughts.
Stroschein says “if one person can come out of here and feel more comfortable talking about those feelings, those dark thoughts. If one person can do that, I’m happy.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or suicidal thoughts you can call the 24-hour hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or click here for more details.