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Sunflowers Provide Hope for Suicide Prevention

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and as nights are getting longer, one Harrisonburg family is raising spirits with a symbol of hope: sunflowers. WMRA’s Christopher Clymer Kurtz reports.

Along Route 33 just east of Harrisonburg is a sea of sunflowers waiting to be picked and shared. It’s an effort by the Frazier family to spread hope, and build awareness of our nation’s suicide epidemic.

According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control, “Suicide is the third leading cause of death among persons aged 10-14, and the second among persons aged 15-34 years.”

Like so many other people, Bibb and Dolly Frazier know suicide all too well.

BIBB FRAZIER: Our son Austin was extremely articulate, and creative, and just had a wonderful sense of humor, which is sorely missed. It really is.

Austin suffered from bipolar disorder, and after his death in 2009, when he was a junior in college, the Fraziers and area colleges and universities linked arms to start Walk for Hope, an annual event hosted on a different campus each year to raise awareness of mental health, depression, and suicide for college-age youth. Bibb Frazier remembers the first Walk.

FRAZIER: That whole moment was an opportunity for individuals who agonized through a mental health affliction, or caregivers, family and friends, seeing the fog of stigma raised for an hour or so and finding community out there where they don't have to hide it.

The field will be open to guests on Saturday, September 3 from 8am to 8pm. Bring a set of pruners for harvesting the flowers. The suggested five dollar donation for each bundle picked by guests will be used for the seventh annual Walk for Hope next March.