WILLIAMSVILLE, Ill. (WAND) - Students and teachers are grieving the loss of one of their own after a high school junior recently died by suicide.
Another student died the same way, this year in the rural town. The loss of two lives in one year sparked a conversation about suicide and mental health. During a suicide prevention training program, young people and adults learned that it is "okay to not be okay."
Talking about suicide is not an easy conversation, but Deb Martin is about normalizing it. Martin is the founder of Jared's Keepers Foundation. Martin understands what the Williamsville community is experiencing. Her own son, Jared Martin, died by suicide at the age of 17.
"Unfortunately we have to deal with this all too often," said Martin, whose foundation is helping the community with the prevention program.
In 2015, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported that suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people. Their ages range from 10 to 19. Bob Forster understands the feeling of losing a loved one to suicide.
Martin invited him from Nashville, Tenn., to share his story. Forster's brother died by suicide. For a moment in life, Bob contemplated taking his own life, too.
His mission is to eliminate the stigma behind mental health and show there's joy at the end of grief.
"People aren't talking about it, it's amazing how many people's lives have been impacted," Forster said. "That's what we have to instill, that there's still hope."