I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the first responders who answered my 911 call in Colfax on March 23, 2013. On that awful day my husband, Ken Westeren, committed suicide.
Within two minutes of my call, Placer County Sheriff Deputy Stephen Barker was on scene and handling the emergency with genuine concern and calm experience.
CalFire Battalion Chief and Colfax Fire Chief Chris Paulus kept me informed of events and kept me talking with compassion and kindness. Suzie DeCamp and the team of Placer County Law Enforcement Chaplains took notes and informed my family about the next steps and offered comfort and guidance on what was to come for all of us in the grieving process after a suicide.
There were so many more that day whose names I do not know but whose faces I will remember. I cannot thank you all enough for the care and compassion with which you handled a tremendously difficult and heartbreaking situation.
You were amazing and exemplified your chosen professions well. We are fortunate to have you at work in our community. To say thank you seems grossly inadequate.
We have truly been humbled by the outpouring of love, prayers and support for our family and friends during this challenging time of crisis for us.
Ken’s memorial service was standing room only and a testament to the impact he had on many people throughout his life. We were all touched by your thoughtful words. The Rev. Maggie McNaught of Loomis Methodist Church offered a touching and prayerful service that provided comfort and healing.
We gratefully thank everyone who spoke so lovingly about Ken, helped with set-up, provided food and assisted in clean-up afterward. Your heartfelt contributions were greatly appreciated and made a painful event more bearable.
Ken battled depression for a number of years and chose not to get help for a problem that was changeable. We are determined that no family should have to suffer like we have by being the ones left behind to wonder, “if only.”
Whatever it takes, however it needs to happen, if you are in a dark place — please, please get help. You are worth it! And if you know someone who is battling depression or contemplating suicide, get them help. It won’t be easy, but it may prevent more tragedies like Ken’s. There is help out there … you are not alone!
With heartfelt gratitude,
Paula “Rusty” Westeren, Colfax