We lost our son, Shane to suicide at age 25 on February 28, 2004, after graduating from UW Stout. He had a great job for a large construction company and was a project manager at Lambeau Field. In September 2003 he moved to Chicago as a project manager for the new School of Business building at the University of Chicago. This job brought a lot of pressure. Pressure he was too young to handle.

The Friday night before he died, he was out celebrating a friend’s birthday. Later, talking to his friends, it sounds like he had a great time. For some reason when he woke up Saturday morning the pressure in his life was too great and he took his own life.

He never showed any signs of depression or mental illness. However, he was mentally ill and I don’t think he realized it. Mental illness and depression are like cancer. If you catch it in time, it can be treated. If not, it can take your life. Mental illness is hard to understand. If you don’t go through it or not close to someone who is mentally ill, you probably blow it off like a common cold.

I believe anyone who dies by suicide is not of their right mind and they do not know or understand what they are doing. Shane’s death was a shock to his family and friends. How could this kid with a great attitude about life, great future, family and friends take his own life. No one could believe Shane would have died by suicide. Every day we think about Shane and wonder what we could have done differently or what signs did we miss that could have spared us this loss. Every day we ask God why Shane, why us?

Then we realize this was God’s plan for Shane and everyone that knew him We now have a big hole in our hearts that we know will never go away. I am sure this is the same for everyone who loses a loved one. Whether it be by suicide, some other illness, accidently or whatever. But because of our family, friends, Shane’s friends and our faith in God we know we have to keep moving forward and we know this is what Shane would want us to do.

Survival is not easy, as you all know. Two weeks after Shane died we were blessed with a little grand daughter who has given us strength to move on. We tried to learn as much as we can about depression and mental illness to try and understand why a person, who had so much going for him, would do this. We have joined the SOS group sponsored by Community for Hope and who is sponsoring the Walk for Suicide Awareness in Kaukauna on Sept. 10, 2011. We have all joined this fraternity. We did not join by choice but for need to be with other people who understand and feel our pain.

Please continue to support one another and remember your loved one is watching over you from above. Mike and Joann Hopfensperger, Darboy USA