Each year, 44,000 people die by suicide. And of those deaths, many more are impacted by it. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month and more specifically, next week is National Suicide Prevention week.
While nothing will replace the loss so many survivors feel, one Sioux Falls woman is using her talent to find joy.
There's a good chance you can find Vonna Marcus right here in her basement studio.
The music is playing, and fingers playing with clay.
It's a hobby she picked up while wintering in Tucson, Arizona. And now tile after tile, she creates art.
"You know creativity, you just have to come up with new ideas of what to do because you can't just make tiles and not have anything to do with them," said Marcus.
Her most memorable day in the studio was spent with her brother, Tom Breems.
"And he'd say, 'Well what do you have for me to do?!', so I'd have him cut tiles or do stuff. He worked all day because I had a lot of little tiny pieces and he'd put them all in the frame and at the end of the day he said, 'You know, you've got about this much room at the bottom, about two inches,', so he said, 'You need to make more.' We had big plans and we worked together all day," said Marcus.
April 18th, 2016 Marcus and Breems spent all day working on a handmade bird tiles.
"We had lunch down here and it was good. We had a great conversation and anyway, he left the house at 3:30 and by 7:30 he was gone," said Marcus.
Breems took his own life. A year and a half has passed, and the signs for Marcus are now clear.
"He sold his house, he got rid of his dog, moved in with his fiance and we thought life was moving forward and he would be fine. That had happened before and he was going to be fine," said Marcus.
Marcus continues to tile and these pieces, will be on display at the Helpline Center's 'Hope and Healing Art Show'.
"My husband said, 'Why well don't you celebrate his life?'. Well that piece that Tom had worked on here on his last day, had birds in it," said Marcus.
It took about seventy hours in total to make handmade tiles for both of these pieces, which will be featured in the 'Hope & Healing Art Show' in honor of Marcus' brother.
"And we wanted to do something special for September which is National Suicide Prevention month," said the Helpline Center's Sheri Nelson.
"The making, it was just a good process time for me. To dedicate hours and hours to just thinking about the joys in his life, and the joy he created in other peoples lives," said Marcus.
Day-by-day and piece-by-piece.
"I do choose joy. Because the hard times, that comes so easily. And so I just have to choose joy and to find joy in a day and say, 'Okay well I'm not going to let the depression and his last few seconds on earth dictate his life'," said Marcus.
The 'Hope and Healing Art Show' will feature the work of 25 artists on September 15th. It will be held at Rehfeld's Art Gallery in Downtown Sioux Falls. For more information, visit the Helpline Center's website
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