Penn State Worthington tackles suicide
BY MEGHAN DAVIS (STAFF WRITER)
Published: September 22, 2011
After his 17-year-old son, Joshua, took his own life in 2003, Ron Pappalarado made it his mission to ensure that no family would go through what his did.
The venture resulted in an amazing journey of self-discovery and healing that led Mr. Pappalarado to write a book and travel nationwide in hopes of spreading his message.
At noon on Wednesday at the Penn State Worthington Scranton campus, Mr. Pappalarado spoke to a crowd of students, faculty and representatives from local school districts about suicide and how important it is to become aware.
He started out with the facts.
"This year, there will be over 32,000 suicides in the United States," he said, "with at least 10 times as many attempts at suicide. One out of every 12 college students will attempt suicide."
According to the American Association of Suicidology, suicide is the third-leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 15 and 24 and the 11th-leading cause of death overall.
Because of the increasing prevalence of suicide among college-age adults, campus nurse Jill Thoman thought now was a good time to bring Mr. Pappalarado to the college to speak to students.
"This man has experience on a personal level," she said.
Mr. Pappalardo attributes many of the suicides to depression.
"If we defeat depression," he said to his audience. "We defeat suicide." He said five major factors contribute to suicide, including family history, access to guns, previous suicide attempts, alcohol and drug abuse and stressful situations.
Mr. Pappalardo urged those present who suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts, or know someone who does, to take advantage of the suicide prevention hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
His son's suicide has led Mr. Pappalardo to focus on what's truly important.
"I think experiencing a traumatic loss forces people to reprioritize what's really important - relationships, family and love," he said.
Contact the writer: [email protected]
Apex Herald 3/11/2010
Author helps people deal with suicide
By Shawn Daley, Editor
.The date August 11, 2003 will forever remain deeply etched into the heart and soul of Ron Pappalardo. It was on that day that his eldest child, Joshua, committed suicide at the age of 17.
It was also on that day that Pappalardo began a new chapter in his life, an ongoing journey in which healing and forgiveness transcended unimaginable grief.
In his book Reconciled by the Light The After-Death Letters from a Teen Suicide, Pappalardo details the unorthodox approach he took in coming to terms with his sons death. The first-time author is holding a book signing event Saturday, March 13 at 2 p.m. at All Booked Up on Salem Street in downtown Apex. Although the chapters dealing with his sons suicide are heartbreaking, the book contains an uplifting message of hope and faith.
A lot of families disintegrate after a suicide, said Pappalardo. The whole goal of the book is to help people realize that it is possible to survive. Another title of this book could have been I Survived Suicide. This is not a dark, downer book. Its actually an inspirational book.
Grief-stricken in the days following Joshuas death, Pappalardo went to extraordinary lengths to reconnect with his son.
In my opinion, the main source of suffering after a suicide or any loss due to death is because you feel separated from a loved one, said Pappalardo. So that separation and how to close the gap is the issue. In my case, I decided I would bridge that gap by finding a way to contact my son in the spiritual world.
A deeply spiritual man, the Cary resident feared that his clinically depressed teen was still plagued by troubles following the suicide.
Using several mediums, Pappalardo says he was able to contact his son and help bring both of their suffering and sadness to a close.
Josh talks about what was going on in his mind before he took his life and then what happened when he got to the other side, said Pappalardo. He had to deal with a lot of issues on the other side and it really knocks your socks off.
Pappalardo understands that skeptics will question whether such communication actually took place. But he believes the mediums helped him overcome the guilt and heartbreak associated with suicide.
I dont really care if people can accept the phenomena as real or not, said Pappalardo. Thats not what is important about the book. The book is called Reconciled by the Light and is about the reconciliation that took place between my son and myself. That is why people experience tremendous grief, guilt and so many other emotions. You dont get a chance to say goodbye or ask why they did it. It is just an absolute separation.
The core issue is that I was able to forgive my son and my son was able to forgive me and now I feel fine. Its hard to explain. Even if this was just a make up novel it would still be moving because of that aspect of reconciliation.
Although his wife, Connie, doesnt question the veracity of the communications, Pappalardos three college-aged children remain unconvinced.
My three other children are fairly skeptical about psychic phenomena, said the Los Angeles native.
They are on the fence about it. But they are happy I wrote the book and they are happy for me but that doesnt mean they necessarily buy it. Whether you believe such abilities exist or not, said Pappalardo, is inconsequential. The message of the books should resonate with both believers and skeptics alike.
I am a spiritual person, said Pappalardo. I very much believe in God and life after death but I dont buy fire and brimstone preaching. I just want to give people hope that it is possible to survive a suicide or any traumatic death. Faith, forgiveness, and honesty are the things that will get you through.
For more information about the author visit www.reconciledbythelight.com.
From The Apex Herald, Thursday March 11, 2010