SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota reached a tragic record in 2021 for the highest number of suicides ever recorded in the state.

Suicide and mental health concerns continue to touch countless lives across KELOLAND, stirring more people to action.

Meet Sioux Falls’ newest nonprofit designed to help lift up anyone struggling with their mental health.

“Beautiful Soul”

“Never Give Up”

“Just One More Climb”

“Someone asked me what that means, I said, just when you think you can’t keep going, just one more climb,” Live Inspired 365 founder Chantelle Friedman said.

These are just some of the uplifting messages Live Inspired 365 is spreading all over KELOLAND with their new project.

“It’s positive encouragement, you may be wearing this shirt in the store and somebody reads it and you find someone’s smile,” Friedman said.

Their positive merchandise all started with selling stickers last fall to raise money to donate some journals and encouraging stickers to patients at Avera Behavioral Health.

“In doing that we had so many people come forward and say, can you do more? We had shirts and things made.” Friedman said.

“It’s just exploded since then,” Live Inspired 365 founder Michelle Thie said.

Since October, Live Inspired 365 has added a long list of merchandise to its online store.

“Then give 100 percent of proceeds back for mental health awareness and suicide prevention,” Friedman said.

Along with supporting patients and mental health caregivers, Live Inspired 365 is also working to raise funds to support the Helpline Center, Lost & Found and the I’m Glad You Stayed Project.

“Any organization that helps with mental health awareness is just another stepping stone to getting the dominos to fall in a different way,” Thie said.

It’s a mission that’s very personal for founders Michelle Thie and Chantelle Friedman.

“Five years ago I lost my dad to suicide, losing him and seeing how people reacted afterwards, from family friends, we found it was very hard to talk about mental health,” Friedman said.

“With my family different issues with anxiety, with depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders,” Thie said.

All issues mental health care providers continue to see more people battle with each year.

“There’s such a significant proportion of people struggling with depression or anxiety or one of the mental health components,” Thomas Otten, the Assistant Vice President of the Avera Behavioral Health Hospital said. “One out of four people are going to experience a mental health concern this year, everybody either themself or has a loved one or a friend who is going through this.”

It’s why more organizations like Live Inspired 365 are being created by people who are looking to help address the mental health crisis in any way they can.

“Since we’ve both been touched by mental illness we realize that there’s just so many people out there that are struggling that need help. Just to feel like you’re doing even just a little bit help,” Thie said.

They’ve found that even something as small as a sticker can make a big difference in someone’s life.

“Just to get people talking and give people encouragement,” Friedman said.

Health care providers say these conversations are essential in helping people seek out the care they need.

“Whether we like it or not, there’s a very significant stigma attached to brain health, very different than if you have a heart condition you go to the heart hospital nobody thinks twice of that, but if you have a brain condition and go to the behavioral health hospital, there is stigma attached to that in a lot of people’s head,” Otten said.

Live Inspired 365 is using donations and the funds raised from the online store to help sponsor sticker programs at schools and businesses all over the region, all designed to raise awareness and conversations about mental health care.

“If they can go into the counselor’s office to get a sticker….maybe they go for the sticker but that’s not really what they’re going for, it’s to get some help,” Friedman said.

And by spreading these messages through stickers and t-shirts, students and coworkers are also finding how much simple words of encouragement can mean to someone they might not even know is struggling.

“Sometimes that’s just all somebody needs is here’s your sign, here’s your sign to keep going, here’s your sign that somebody cares, that there’s always somebody out there,” Friedman said. 

The new nonprofit is hosting its first fundraising gala on Saturday, February 25th, to help support more of its sticker programs and fundraising efforts for suicide prevention programs throughout KELOLAND.