Family raises suicide awareness, honors late son

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Every year more than 30,000 people in the U.S. commit suicide, according to the Suicide Prevention Coalition.

Suicide is also the third leading cause of death among those ages 10 to 24.

“Kids in school are being bullied and a lot of times the ending result is suicide,” said Tammy Hill.

Hill is a friend to the family of Brandon Larsen who took his own life in October, 2014.

Brandon was 14 years old, his family says he was bullied, and Saturday his family put on an event at Riverside Park to highlight the consequences of bullying.

“These kids they don’t talk about it, or they can’t find the right adult that will do something about it. So they are afraid of saying anything because they are afraid of being bullied even more, or they just don’t know who to talk to,” Hill said.

Many kids who are bullied, or thinking of suicide never tell anyone.

“It’s still that stigma, people don’t want to come out and say this is happening. We have the laws but we need to enforce those laws with the schools to help the kids get the help they need,” said Elaina Harris with the Suicide Prevention Coalition

However, recently events like Saturday’s and conversations about bullying and suicide have become more prevalent and it may be helping the cause.

The most recent numbers from the Education Department show fewer students reporting being bullied dropping from 28 percent in 2011 to 22 percent in 2013.

“There is help, and there is hope. Both are there. If we can connect people, there really is hope. Even when people are thinking about taking their lives, there is still another side they know they don’t want to go,” said Richard TenHoor with the Suicide Prevention Coalition.

TenHoor says the easiest way to help people is to listen.

“When we listen to people and really listen they can reveal how their feeling. When people are feeling bad or awful, a sense of hopelessness those type of things can be a potential indicator there might be a problem.”

Another tip, simply ask if someone is considering suicide.

“There’s nothing wrong, and it’s actually a healing thing to ask somebody are you thinking about taking your life,” TenHoor said.

As for Hill, she said Saturday’s event was touching.

“It’s very touching to see the turnout that we’ve had. It breaks my heart at the same time to know that so many people are going through it.”


Find help online:

Healthy Kent

The Mental Health Foundation

Be nice. campaign

Network 180

Gryphon Place

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