Rockford man helps raise suicide awareness after losing his friend

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Dozens of motorcycle riders kicked up their stands and rode to bring awareness to suicide prevention for veterans.

After losing a friend to suicide, a Rockford man felt he needed to do something — to raise awareness. On Sunday, that something included loud bikes and a lot of leather.

“A while ago, I experienced a friend committing suicide,” said Sean Nisus.

That loss is what Nisus says inspired him to create Sunday’s Suicide Awareness Ride.

“That drove me just to do something for the community,” said Nisus.

Bikers lined up to show their support while 22 sponsors participated. All donations are going to Mission 22.

“My friend was in the military and Mission 22 is in the fight for veteran suicide awareness and prevention. That touched my heart when I chose them,” said Nisus.

He says the event isn’t just about prevention for those in the military. Laura Kane is the executive director for Marshmallows Hope, a local organization bringing awareness to mental health.

“I lost my 14-year-old son to suicide in 2018. So, since then I have started this nonprofit organization in hopes to prevent more suicides. To encourage our youth to keep living,” said Kane.

Behind Kane was a display of dozens of photos.

“These are the faces of suicide, unfortunately. When I lost my son, I didn’t know anybody who had died from suicide and these are actually families of real people. These are real people that have been affected by suicide.”

Nisus and Kane tell us there is still a large need for advocacy, especially for men.

“It’s hard to come out about this stuff because when I went through it, all I did was [hold] those emotions inside me and I didn’t let it free,” said Nisus.

“By having events like this or letting men know that it’s okay to not be okay – that it doesn’t make you weak to reach out for help,” said Kane.

Kane will be hosting a youth suicide prevention program on June 26. To learn more about support services, click here.

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