Tom

PROSSER, WA - September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and Wednesday is World Suicide Prevention Day.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) suicide is the third leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 24.

A mother in Prosser who lost her son to suicide is using her own heartbreak to bring about awareness on this topic.

"Tom died when he was 16 years old, he died by suicide. He was funny, he was intelligent, he was nerdy, but in a good way," said Tom's mother Kimberly Starr.

It's been four years since Tom passed and since then his mother, Kimberly Starr has dedicated herself to spreading awareness about suicide.

"I ended up leaving teaching theater so I could be self employed and teach suicide prevention as much as possible," said Starr.

Starr says her goal is to make it safe for people to talk about suicide and to teach others how to address this topic, something she wishes she would of known how to do earlier.

"A really good example is about a year before Tom died, a man that I worked with died by suicide, and I sat right at that dinning room table and I said, 'Now Tom Tom you're not going to do anything dumb like that right? and he said, 'Of course not mother," said Starr.

After Tom died Starr discovered her son had actually been thinking about suicide for years.

"So instead of saying to him, Tom are you thinking about suicide, or Tom have you ever felt that despondent? I said, Tom you're not going to do anything stupid like that right? I told him the answer to tell me. I told him to tell me no, because it would be stupid for you to do that, and the truth is that is not the case, so teaching people to talk appropriately I truly believe is going to save lives," said Starr.

Since sharing her sons story Starr says it's not only helped her heal but also others.

"I have people who call me, email me, message me, Facebook me, and say that because you're telling your story something positive has happened in my life. When I speak, I talk about that. I can live on knowing that Tom lives on in others, and doing this work has been really important in my own healing journey, you don't ever get over the loss of a child," said Starr.

Please remember there is help available, anytime you need it. If you or someone you know needs someone to talk to, you can always call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline the number is 1-800-273-8255 you can also text 741-741.

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