When Amanda Garay lost her brother, Chris Langlais, to suicide in 2015, it was immediately clear to her that she needed to do something to memorialize him and to help others who’ve been impacted by such a death.

Only a few months after her brother died, Garay and her parents, of Winslow, founded the Chris Langlais Memorial Golf Tournament to honor Chris’ passion for the fairway and to raise money for suicide-related causes. Funds raised the first two years benefited the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which Garay said is a great cause, but she couldn’t tell donors exactly where their money was going.

Then she found out about Camp Kita, a bereavement camp on North Pond, in Rome, for children who are suicide survivors – people who have survived the loss of a loved one to suicide.

“A friend of mine sent me an article about these three siblings from southern Maine who started this camp,” said Garay, 36. Sydney, Morgan and Isaiah Mosher started the camp in 2013, 12 years after losing their father to suicide. “So I talked to people at the second tournament and they said they loved the idea and thought it was great that it was going to kids, especially kids who lost someone to suicide.”

The tournament raised $8,000 last year – bankrolling the cost of 10 campers to attend this year’s weeklong session, which wrapped up Aug. 11 – and Garay and the rest of the family were looking to raise even more at the fourth event, which took place Sunday at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro.

“She puts in so much work throughout the year to memorialize Chris,” said Sydney Mosher, the youngest of the Mosher siblings, of Garay. “And it really makes an impact on our bottom line because we’re so, so small.”

In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide, according to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control in June. In that study, researchers found that the United States suicide rates increased more than 25 percent since 1999, with the rates in Maine increasing by 27 percent – meaning that the number of suicide survivors is growing as well.

With the loss of a loved one to suicide come emotional challenges, particularly for the demographic that Camp Kita aims to help. Children or teens who lose a parent to suicide are three times more likely to die by suicide themselves than those with living parents, according to a 2010 study from the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. The study also found that those who lose parents to suicide were nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized for depression as those with living parents.

“For the entire week we are mentors, which are adult suicide survivors,” Mosher said of her and her siblings’ role at the camp. “That allows the children to come to camp to see the potential for what their life could be 20 years from now: living a fulfilling life, but also being a good role model in the way that they talk about suicide and to cope with their loss in healthy ways.”

Together – with the financial contribution from the golf tournament and the siblings helping to run camp operations – Garay and the Moshers are helping to create a community of healing for suicide survivors, in which they are also finding solace.


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