Breaking the silence: Suicide victim’s family gets involved in walk for prevention

tinaandme1Christina Abbe was only 15 years old when she took her own life with a single gunshot to her chest. Crystal Abbe Graham, her identical twin, was left forever scarred by this loss.

Twenty-three years after the loss, Graham has joined a national effort to raise awareness and funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Graham talked about her loss and the effort in a recent podcast produced by Augusta Free Press.

“Our family has been struggling for a number of years with how we remember Christina, and how we get involved in suicide prevention,” Graham said during the podcast.

Graham had talked about writing a book or talking to teens as part of a school assembly, but nothing had materialized. She then came across the national Out of the Darkness campaign by reading about it on the Facebook page of The Goo Goo Dolls. John Rzeznik had posted on Facebook that he was participating in an overnight walk in Buffalo. Graham followed the link and found a local event happening in Staunton.

“The anniversary of my sister’s death is Sept. 23,” Graham said. “And the walk being put on in Staunton is just a couple of weeks later on Oct. 10. So it seemed like a great way to get together people who remember Christina and maybe want to be a part of making a difference on the issue.”

Graham started a team in Christina’s memory – Remembering Tina – and shared information on how to get involved on her Facebook page. Getting her mother, Peggy, and sister, Heather, involved was important. To date, including both of them, the team has 19 participants.

“I’ve found that those who have expressed an interest may not have even known her but they know me, or my family or know someone else who may have attempted or committed suicide,” Graham said.

Graham has been overwhelmed by the outpouring from her friends and colleagues. From Facebook messages to emails and text messages and early donations, the support has been comforting.

“The people who’s lives changed forever were the people who loved her most, her dear friends and family,” Graham said, “the people who 23 years later, are still dealing with this. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of Christina.”

The Out of the Darkness Walk takes place on Oct. 10 at Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton at 10 a.m.. The walk raises money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Monies support educational programs, new research and victims’ families.

“I think I am finally ready to break the silence and talk about what happened to my family. And in a lot of ways this walk at Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton in October will be the first step in a journey to bring together people who have been touched in some way by suicide,” she said.

Graham is looking forward to being involved in a proactive way in suicide prevention. Her goal is to get 50 people to walk with her in Staunton. She’s set a high team fundraising goal of $7,500, or approximately $150 per walker. Individuals may join the Remembering Tina team as virtual walkers (not able to participate in walk but want to help raise funds), as walkers or volunteers.

“I believe, truly, that anyone that knows me, or knows my mom, or knows my sister, is going to want to participate in this in some way,” Graham said.

To sign up as a virtual walker or walker or to make a donation, visit


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