Concerned by suicide statistics, KELOLAND woman leaves positive signs in Brookings

Local News

Every 40 seconds, someone dies from suicide. That’s according the World Health Organization. Worldwide, one million people die from suicide each year, leaving families broken hearted. A local woman is trying to help, and you can see her efforts popping up in Brookings.

We are surrounded by words. They’re on posters, signs, buildings, and all sorts of places. Words are everywhere, but Mariah Vanderwal thinks we could use a few more.

“It’s good to have that little bit of encouragement, little bit of positivity,” VanderWal said.

There are a few white signs on 6th Street in Brookings. They’re small, but the message they hold is immeasurable .

“You matter. Don’t give up. Your mistakes don’t define you,” VanderWal said, reading her signs.

VanderWal bought 100 signs with positive messages. She has put them all over Brookings and neighboring communities. Her goal is to help someone who is having a bad day.

“A lot of people carry a lot of things. Whether it’s anxiety or depression. Just worries about things,” VanderWal said.

These signs started in Oregon and are part of a company called Don’t Give Up Signs. As a nurse, VanderWal sees a lot of people with mental health issues, and has noticed an increase of cases of suicide in the area. For her, it’s personal.

“Nine years ago, my grandpa committed suicide in December. With that, I’ve always had a special interest in mental health and suicide awareness,” VanderWal said.

VanderWal’s signs have the potential to save lives.

“Those are things we need to remember that we are loved and people do care for us,” VanderWal said.

When drivers leave them in the rear view mirror, she hopes the messages stay with them wherever they go.

“Even if it’s one person, that’s a big deal. For a lot of people, because it not only affects that one person, but all of their family members and their loved ones,” VanderWal said.

Kindness can be everywhere, it’s just up to us to put it into words and give those to the people who may need them the most.

“It’s a simple act of kindness that helps a lot of people every day,” VanderWal said.

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