Twisted Sisters Gear up for First Samaritans 5K

Two people making silly faces in a photo booth
Suzanne and her brother, Tom, having fun in a photo booth.

Nicole Pirani, Team Captain of Twisted Sisters, knows firsthand the effect a suicide can have on a family left behind. She and her sister Suzanne lost their brother, Tom, to suicide 34 years ago, when he was just 20 years old. “We thought that he was untouchable,” Nicole says, “but we learned quickly about the fragility of life. The idea that someone could feel unworthy of living became a reality to us.”

Nicole became involved with Samaritans by donating flowers to the annual Breakfast for Hope from her floral boutique. When she closed her business last year, she wanted a physical outlet to replace that work. Her sister, Suzanne, is an avid runner and has completed several races over the last few years. This year, they decided to tackle the Samaritans 5K Run/Walk for Suicide Prevention for the first time.

Nicole remarks, “I wanted to have a race to train for and thought it would be something fun for us to do together. The Samaritans 5K made sense for us to do since we were impacted directly by our brother’s suicide. I wanted to use his memory to maybe help someone else by supporting Samaritans’ work.”

The loss of Tom is not the only reason Nicole and her family are participating. They are also acutely aware of how suicide rates drastically differ across communities. For instance, 41% of transgender people report having attempted suicide at some point in their lives, compared with 4.6% of the general public (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute). This statistic is personal for Nicole.

An adult and child smile at the camera
Nicole Pirani and her son, Al, pose for a selfie.

She shares, “My son, Al, is 10 going on 11. He is gender non-conforming and has been since the age of 3. I have read and researched the topic of gender for many years now and know the higher statistics regarding suicide. When I was first trying to understand Al’s journey, I made a promise to myself to make sure he stays as emotionally well as possible. I know that life can be challenging for Al at times. It makes sense to me why, for some people who are not being supported, suicide becomes a real option. Just like every parent, I want to make sure that my child and others like him have the resources they need if they are in pain. Samaritans volunteers, who listen without judgement, are strangers whose mere presence represents valuable hope to someone that feels lost.”

That hope, she says, is what motivates her for the big day. “We’re hoping to feel a sense of connectedness to community and the hope that we contributed to saving some lives.”

Find Twisted Sisters’ 5K Fundraising page or register to walk/run on September 29!