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Central Coast family which lost loved one to suicide works to get people talking about issue

Külli Kittus
A community run set for this Saturday in Ventura County is intended to raise money to fight mental health issues, as well as awareness about the problem.

Annual run on South Coast brings awareness to issue.

It’s the kind of news no one is really prepared for.

But, it’s the kind of tragedy which unfortunately happens almost everyday on the Central and South Coasts. Family members and friends of Fredrick Michael Gibson were rocked by the news the 27-year-old San Luis Obispo man had taken his life.

Karen Finmark was Gibson’s aunt. The two were close, and she was proud of his accomplishments.

"He had talked to me openly about taking his life, and I said you can't do this." said Finmark. "I honestly in my heart never thought he would really do it."

But, the Simi Valley woman says she knew that her nephew suffered from depression. Gibson was getting professional help, but in the end it didn’t work.

"He was intelligent, sweet, and kind. You couldn't ask for a better nephew, or son," said Finmark. "As an undergrad up at UC Davis, he worked with a leading AIDS researcher. From there, he went to San Diego, and was in his last year of pharmacy school. He wanted to go into pharmaceutical research."

Finmark wants something good to come from what occurred. For years, she had helped organize a run benefiting the Free Clinic of Simi Valley. She decided she wanted to do a similar event not just to raise money to help with mental health issues, but to get people talking about things like depression.

The latest National Institutes Of Health information shows that nearly 50,000 people a year commit suicide in America. It’s more than double the number of murders which occur in America annually.

Finmark says it’s hard to get some people talking, and thinking about mental health issues because of the stigma attached to the subject. She’s hoping to help break it.

The Fredrick Michael Wilson 5K/10K Run for Depression Awareness is this coming Saturday, in Rancho Simi Community Park. Money raised benefits the Free Clinic of Simi Valley, and its family counseling services.

There will also be a bloodmobile on site for people who’d like to donate, as well as a popup COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.