By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
One group is taking strides to make a difference and promote the value of life in a small tight-knit community.
Speak Out Against Suicide was formed to help those affected by suicide and raise awareness of the problem that has plagued the Camanche area.
The group was started by Nicole Carber and her 14 year-old daughter Harlee as a way to support friends and family who had been affected by the tragic problem.
“We have had many friends and family who we have lost to suicide and Harlee just lost a classmate in December,” Carber said.
Speak Out held a pledge booth at Camanche Days for suicide prevention and bullying awareness. More than 160 people signed the pledges.
They also hosted a special kickoff event about suicide awareness at the opening ceremonies.
“While we did not have a large audience that we had hoped for, it was still a great event which got people talking,” Carber said. “We did not have any idea this would be so greatly supported as it has been.”
There were more than 30 kids and adults that joined together to represent the organization in the Camanche Days parade. Members also have used Facebook as an outlet to connect and reach out to each other.
“Our Facebook page has been a wonderful outreach for many,” Carber said. “There have been stories shared, teens have spoke out for help and it has brought a new light on things.”
No matter the situation or form of outreach, the most important mission of the group is to get the word out and have the issue discussed in an open forum.
“One of the very most important things is that we start talking about this,” Carber said. “Most people want to keep it hush hush, but it is so important for our youth to know things can be worked out and it is okay to speak out.”
Hiding the problems of the community will only hurt it, according to member Amber Metzger.
“We’re no longer sweeping it under the rug,” Metzger said. “We’re a group of people who care and are here for you.”
Speak Out has teamed up with several organizations to provide further help to those who are in need. Jocelyn Meyer, TeenScreen coordinator from Bridgeview, spoke about warning signs and how to handle a situation when a suicidal person reaches out for help at a recent meeting.
The group plans to continue their monthly Reach Out & Speak Out meetings and host several community events. They are planning to work with the MJL Foundation, an organization located in Donahue, that helps those suffering from depression and support to those affected by suicide.
Future plans are to hold a walk or trivia night with the foundation.
“We are hoping to start a support group for those families who have lost a loved one and we are planning a community event for next year,” Carber said.
This group has spoken at several City Council meetings to drum up support throughout the community and from city officials.
“I think what you’re doing is great,” Mayor Ken Fahlbeck said. “We would be happy to help in any way we can.”
For more information on the group, check out their Facebook page.