I met Dawn Haim during the winter of 2010. What I loved most about her was that she was so down to earth and full of life. Our daughters played basketball together and later soccer. She grew up in Georgia with her twin sister, but her southern sweetness was wonderfully tinged with a slight mischievousness, and she always called me “honey.” Every time I saw Dawn, she was surrounded by her daughters, flanked on each side and showing the closeness only mothers and daughters share. When her daughter was in the game, Dawn would follow her every move, loudly dictating encouragement, often calling out her childhood nickname. At their home, Kevin, her husband was a busy, involved father. He encouraged his daughter’s friendships, even inviting the entire basketball team over to their home for a sleepover. When I dropped my daughter off, he was making apple pie from scratch. Later that evening, the entire Haim family participated in a game of hide-and-seek, and when my daughter returned home, she announced her evening had been the most glorious time of her life. Later, I remember telling Dawn that I had secretly nicknamed Kevin, “the perfect husband,” to which she laughed and said, “You MUST tell Kevin.”
When soccer season started, I always tried to find Dawn in the stands. Her humble stories were always told with self-deprecating humor. The best part about Dawn was her strength and her enormous love for her children. One of my favorite stories happened when the Haim family was in DisneyWorld. The family dynamics often included extended family, cousins, aunts, sisters. On this particular trip, 10 of them were squished like sardines into the elevator of the Haunted Mansion. As I remember it, a young woman was not too happy being compressed into the small space. When the room appeared to get smaller, the stranger turned and pushed one of Dawn’s children. Dawn turned and pushed back, hard, causing a near riot. They were almost expelled from the park, but somehow they were able to outwit park security and staff. After a quick ride through the mansion, the Haim family simply disappeared into the sea of tourists. Dawn never let any one bully her.
I loved her spunk. Her daughter spent some time with us during the summer. She was always open about her family’s challenges, confiding that her mom had attempted suicide three times. One of those times, she apparently mixed alcohol and pills and ended up in a coma for three months in Las Vegas during a family vacation. At the end of the 2011 school year, Dawn had gotten a DUI, by the time summer had ended, her daughter said she was detached and difficult to talk to. Life is hard. For some, it’s impossible.
On Wednesday, our girls left for Savannah, Georgia on a school trip. My husband and I were running the Kaiser Permenete 5k run. There must have been more than a thousand people and it was difficult getting through. I was thrilled when I finished. When I caught up with my husband, he told me our daughter had called from Savannah while he was running. He didn’t recognize the number at first and ignored it, but she persisted. I was sure she was ill or had broken her arm or was homesick. “Is she ok?” I asked. “Well that’s the thing. She’s fine, but Dawn Haim committed suicide. Apparently, she had been missing since Monday and today they found her body.” My first thought was for Dawn. Her pain must have been enormous.
She was found in a pile of weeds about a block from the rehab center where she was staying. Kevin said she simply walked away from the facility, laid down in the weeds and ended her life. I miss her already. Soccer and basketball season will be empty, hollow and cold and the lives of those she touched will be forever broken.
According to the American Society of Suicide Prevention, women attempt suicide three times more than men, “The higher rate of attempted suicide in women is attributed to the elevated rate of mood disorders among females, such as major depression, dysthymia and seasonal affective disorder.” Additionally, more women than men, at a rate of 2 to 1, report a history of attempted suicide. Reasons include, “interpersonal losses or crises in significant social or family relationships.”
Ironically, tomorrow, September 10th, is World Suicide Prevention Day. Created by the International Association of Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organization, World Suicide Prevention Day is meant to bring awareness and educate people on ways to help. They are also asking for a candle to be set in your window at 8pm tomorrow evening, “Lighting a candle, near a window, at 8 PM in support of: World Suicide Prevention Day, suicide prevention awareness, survivors of suicide and for the memory of loved lost ones.” To learn more about ways to help, download the IASP’s pamphlet or join their Facbook page Facebook.com/IASPinfo
Please keep Dawn and her family in your prayers tonight.