Families affected by suicide share stories, raise awareness

HOWARD – The Brown County Coalition for Suicide Prevention says suicide is the 10th most common cause of death for all age groups in Wisconsin.

In the last four years Brown County has seen an increase in suicide deaths. But some Brown County residents want to see change.

With bandanas tied tightly around their heads, more than two dozen bikers are ready to ride.

But it isn’t just a ride; it has a special meaning.

“The suicide prevention ride is good for the community to become aware of what’s really going on around them,” said Dean Tackmier.

The ride was started five years ago by Jeanne Parrett.

“It was 18 years ago that I tried to take my own life,” said Jeanne Parret.

Parrett says depression is an illness that can affect anyone.

“There are situations that life brings you. It can bring you all the way down to the bottom. You’ve got to know that there’s somebody there that can bring you back out,” Parrett said.

The Brown County Coalition for Suicide Prevention says in the last decade there have been 314 completed suicides in Brown County. Last year 35 people died by suicide – that’s the highest number since 2009.

All of the money raised during the 75 mile ride will be donated to the Crisis Center of Family Services in Green Bay.

The center has a lot of meaning for Parrett.

“I got the counselor through them,” Parrett said.

While some ride for suicide prevention, just a few blocks away, family and friends remember someone they recently lost.

“He was one of the kindest and one of the most genuine good souls I’ve ever met,” said Luke Heckel.

Paul Huntley died by suicide a month and a half ago.

His family says looking back, there were warning signs.

“It wasn’t something you would ever think your family member would do. You sort of ignore it and just pass it off as something he said,” said William Huntley.

Counselors with the crisis center say suicide is preventable.

“Asking for help is a sign of strength not a sign of weakness and the best way to get help is to become connected with counseling services,” Chelsea McGuire a counselor with Crisis Center of Family Services.

Friends say Huntley could play the bass without even trying. His family says they’ll miss his music and most of all his smile.

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