IOLA, Kan.–When tragedy struck Sharla Miller, she says she was challenged with how to handle it.
“I lost my son two and a half years ago to suicide. And so, just like I said at his funeral, I had a letter read and it was like, why did God take my only son and show me how to learn from this tragedy?” Miller said.
It’s what drew her to start the Southeast Kansas branch of “Thirteen reasons to fly”.
“It’s a mental health awareness workshop and suicide prevention workshop…it’s a spin-off of the Netflix ’13 Reasons Why’ which was how-to reasons to commit suicide.”
The new name creates a more positive take when talking about mental illness, which Miller says helps erase the stigma.
“Our main goal is to take the stigma away. And like I said, if we could just give one person a tool for their tool, build a life and just help them, you know, to at least reach out and see.”
The workshop was filled with various activities and speakers, in the hope of raising more awareness for youth suicide.
Amber Jewell was this year’s guest speaker and says after dealing with years of childhood trauma, she’s using her experiences to let other’s know they aren’t alone.
“I think the main thing I talk about is that we all matter and finding hope and worth within us”, Jewell said. “So my statement and motto is that life is tough, but so are you. And I truly believe that because we’re all going to have challenges no matter our age, our life experiences. Our influences matter, the life we live and the way that we role model hope is as impactful as getting it and changing something for somebody.
Jewell adds that while we aren’t responsible to fix anybody, it’s still possible to make a difference in small things as we go.
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