Father creates suicide awareness foundation in son's memory - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Father creates suicide awareness foundation in son's memory

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

On Friday night, Project Safe CRCA, held it's first event at Prairie High School. It's a suicide awareness foundation that formed last year. It has a simple goal, to save lives, one life at a time, by creating awareness and highlighting available resources.

To start off the event, over a dozen vendors set up shop inside the school. Each to showcase what services they provide to show people that suffer from mental health illnesses that there is help out there. After that, a large panel held a town hall session to talk about mental health issues and to answer questions.

According to the World Health Organization, 800,000 people die to suicide each year.

"We need people to speak up and talk about those issues. That's the only way we can truly solve the problems of mental health and help those people survive another week, month, or year," Mike Farr, Project Safe President, said.

One of the speakers at the event was former Iowa football player, Sean Welsh, who as player, come out publicly about his depression.

"I like to tell people that if a big tough Iowa lineman can talk about his feelings, some other guy my age can. I think it's such a big crisis with college-age kids, especially with males the culture is 'suck it up', especially with football, too, and with mental health, that's not just something you can do," Welsh said.

Farr created Project Safe for his 17-year-old son, Garrett, a senior at Prairie. Garrett will be forever 17.

"He was kind of the class clown. Everyone knew Garrett and loved him," Farr said. "He never got to appreciate or understand the love of his classmates and people that really loved him. He never could understand that."

On September 22, 2017, Garrett lost his long battle with depression. Farr said he felt he had to do something after his death to try and prevent this from happening again.

"There were many agencies that I wasn't even aware that existed. If I maybe would have reached out and found those agencies, Garrett might still be here. I can't say that for sure but I didn't exhaust everything out there because I wasn't aware," he said.

Joining the panel was also Garrett's older brother, Brandon, who like him, suffers from depression. Brandon said he thinks talking about it can help prevent future stories like Garretts.

"Nobody wants to talk about it. It takes a team. It takes people being there you but they have to know what you're going through otherwise they can't really be there for you. That's one of the things we're trying to fix. Have people talk, don't be ashamed, and show that other people are going through this too," he said.

More information about Project Safe can be found on its website.

Farr hopes to take this event to other schools in the area.

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