Benefit aims to help those touched by suicide


Kendra Nichols

Kendra Nichols lost her brother, Anthony Sturgeon, to suicide.

The Ferdinand man died Aug. 13, 2016. He was 29.

And it was not been easy for Nichols to handle that loss.

“It’s a different kind of hurt than when I lost my grandmother,” she said. “This was a different type of grieving. And I didn’t know how to cope with it.”

Sturgeon had dealt with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts from as early as his teenage years. “He was bullied at a young age and developed an addiction,” Nichols said. “He got clean. And then he died by suicide.”

Nichols is a Dubois County native but by then had moved to Mount Vernon and then Evansville. In her grieving process, she found others in Evansville who were dealing with similar losses.

“I found that to be very healing for me,” she said. “I didn’t fully grieve and cope with my grief until I got around people that understood my pain and the way I felt.”

Nichols, now 27, lives in Evansville with her husband, Jacob, and two dogs; the couple celebrated their first anniversary on Aug. 10.

She wants to help others who have also lost a loved one to suicide.

“I wanted to do something back home, so that other people could heal,” she said.

So she is hosting the first ever Locking Arms for Suicide Awareness benefit at 6 p.m. Saturday at Venue 1408, 1408 Main St. in Huntingburg.

“It’s locking arms with those around you,” Nichols said, “with people who have lost someone by suicide or who struggle with suicide in general. It’s locking arms and getting to know them.”

Nichols will speak at the event as will Chris Schmitt — who also lost a relative to suicide — and Nicole Schnell of Survivors of Suicide, who is also a representative of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“With this, people get a chance to be able to share and meet each other,” said Janet Schnell, head of Survivors of Suicide of Dubois County. “After we’ve had the chance to grieve, doing things like this helps loss survivors. Because it’s doing action with our grief.”

Proceeds of the benefit will go to the foundation, which provides funding for research concerning suicide and prevention, as well as dispenses that information to organizations and the public.

Janet found Nichols’ event via social media and reached out to her to help.

“Having Janet involved is a blessing,” Nichols said.

Janet said that having younger people involved in this effort is needed. “We have an aging survivor group,” she said.

Nichols added that the suicide rate is growing among the younger populations.

“We need to get ahead of it and prevent them before they get older and decide to make that choice,” she said.

Nichols has noticed that the rate of suicides continues to grow. “More and more families are being affected,” Nichols said. “I want to let people know they are not alone, and that there are resources in the community, like Survivors of Suicide.”

She hopes that people who have been affected by suicide and those who have not come to the benefit.

“People need to care about suicide before it happens to them,” Nichols said. “I wish I had been more aware before it touched my life.”

Saturday’s Locking Arms for Suicide Awareness benefit costs $35 per person, $60 per couple, $10 for children age 6 to 15, and free for children under 5.

The event will include music, speakers, an auction, half pot and information about available resources. RSVPs are being taken through the event’s Facebook page.

For more information, contact Nichols at 812-631-1692 or Janet at 812-630-6779.

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