2012 Featured Survivors and Speakers
Eric Marcus is the author of Why Suicide? Questions & Answers about Suicide, Suicide Prevention, and Coping with the Suicide of Someone You Know. In December 1970, Eric's father, Irwin, took his life at the age of 44 after struggling with depression since serving in the Navy during World War II. At the time of his death, Irwin worked for the U.S. Postal Service. Eric's sister-in-law, Maria, killed herself on Election Day in 2008. She was 49. Maria's death inspired Eric to revisit and rewrite his book about suicide fourteen years after its original publication. He is the author of several other books, including Is It a Choice? and Making Gay History, and is co-author of Breaking the Surface, the New York Times #1 best-selling autobiography of Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis. Eric is a former associate producer for both "Good Morning America" and "CBS Morning News." He is a graduate of Vassar College and earned his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.
Doreen Marshall, Ph.D, lost her fiancé, Chris, to suicide in September 1995. At just 23-years-old, he was a chef and a budding musician living in New Jersey. Doreen is an Associate Professor and Chair in the Counseling Dept at Argosy University, and maintains a private counseling practice in Atlanta. She is a member of AFSP’s Survivor Council and a trainer for AFSP’s Facilitating Suicide Bereavement Support Groups Training Program, has served on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Suicidology and has been a member of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Georgia. Doreen also served as the Associate Director of The Link’s National Resource Center for Suicide Prevention and Aftercare.
David Becker lost his step-son, Sammy, on Christmas Eve in 2004. At just 28 years old, he was preparing to start trade school for electrical engineering and worked for a plumbing and paint store. Sammy was a loving father to his now 10 year-old son. David is a retired neurochemistry professor and researcher of neurotransmitters. He and his wife, Mary Ann, facilitated the Survivors After Suicide Group in Dumont, N.J., until they relocated to Delaware in 2011.
Janet Schnell's brother Kent was 30 when he took his life in 1994. He was working as a car rental customer service representative when he died, and was part of a very loving and close-knit family of seven. Janet is a very involved in the suicide prevention and mental health field as a psychiatric social worker. She coordinates a local substance abuse council and teaches suicide prevention courses online. Janet also currently facilitates the Survivors of Suicide of Dubois County support group, organizes a Lifekeeper Memory Quilt for AFSP, and has contributed to the book Seeking Hope: Stories of the Suicide Bereaved.
John Fujikawa's 48 year-old wife, Nancy, died by suicide in November of 2006. They met and fell in love while attending dental school and were married for 18 wonderful years. John continues to practice dentistry in San Francisco. He has attended numerous International Survivors of Suicide Day programs in his local community and is involved with the Out of the Darkness walks. He has supported and participated in the last four Out of the Darkness Overnight walks.
Linda Livendale's son, Joseph, ended his life in March of 2004. Joseph attended the University of Vermont where he received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. At the time of his death he was designing medical devices for an engineering firm. He was an all-star lacrosse player, an avid hunter, snowmobiler, water skier and golfer. Linda serves as chair for the Vermont Chapter of AFSP and chairs her local Out of the Darkness Community Walk. She is also a member of the Vermont Youth Suicide Prevention Coalition and the Vermont Suicide Prevention Workgroup. Linda and her husband have also created a scholarship in Joe's memory and since 2004 have awarded 16 college scholarships.
Bolivia Williams lost her mother, Rynn, to suicide on July 15, 2009. At the time of her death, Rynn was 48 years old and studying to become a teacher. She loved poetry, and was a wonderful mother to Bolivia and her two younger siblings. Bolivia began her senior year of high school in 2012, and was glad she could be part of the panel this year. She first became involved with AFSP in 2011 during the Overnight Out of the Darkness Walk in New York City.
Joanne Harpel became AFSP's first-ever Director of Survivor Initiatives in 2002 after having served on AFSP's National Board of Directors, and is now AFSP's Senior Director for Public Affairs and Postvention. Joanne is a former attorney with experience in non-profit administration, and is responsible for the full range of AFSP’s survivor programs, including International Survivors of Suicide Day, the Survivor Outreach Program, the Survivor e-Network, and the Support Group Facilitator Training Program. She is a survivor of the 1993 suicide of her brother Stephen, who was a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School.
Robert Gebbia has been AFSP's Executive Director since 1997. Prior to joining AFSP, he was with the United Way, and also worked as a Senior Health Planner for the New York City Department of Health. He holds a B.A. in Sociology from Hofstra University and an M.A. in Sociology from the New School for Social Research.