The Stomp Out Suicide 5k Walk/Run will be held this year in Goodview Park in Wyoming Aug. 19 beginning at 9 a.m. The event will feature a musician with a special connection to the cause.
“I wrote a song called ‘You’re Not Alone’ that was inspired by a veteran buddy of mine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan,” White Bear Lake singer-songwriter Jake Nelson said. “He was dealing with some serious post-traumatic stress disorder, and he tried to take his life. Luckily he is still with us today, but his struggles are what really prompted me to write the song.”
Although he is a working musician trying to make a name for himself, when Nelson penned “You’re Not Alone,” his goal was simply to promote a message of hope to those struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide.
“This song is bigger than me and my career,” he said. “I really just want to get it in the ears and in front of the eyes of those who need it.”
Nelson never imagined just how close to home that message would hit.
“Another buddy of mine, Eric McLeod, was going through some tough times as he had just lost his job and he was in a custody battle for his kids and also had a car accident, and he took to social media and said he didn’t want to be here anymore,” Nelson said. “I didn’t even have the song recorded yet and it was just an audio file on my phone, but I sent it to him anyway.”
Thirty minutes after Nelson sent the song, he received a text from McLeod.
“He thanked me for saving his life,” Nelson said. “He was ready to commit suicide that night and he wrote that the words in the song helped to change his mind.”
Since that time, McLeod has himself become an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, and he stars in the music video for “You’re Not Alone” (goo.gl/3QbZFj) along with several other of Nelson’s friends and family.
“Everybody knows someone who goes through a difficult situation in life, and maybe it’s even themselves,” Nelson said. “Some people can recover quickly and get up and move on, but sometimes people take things differently.”
Radio personality Paul Thomas, who is the emcee of the Stomp Out Suicide event, runs the Livin’ Foundation, a 501c3 with a goal of raising awareness about mental health and depression.
Thomas and Nelson are friends through the music business, and Thomas was the one to recommend Nelson for the Aug. 19 Canvas Health-sponsored Stomp Out Suicide event.
“Paul talked to (marketing manager) Julia (Yach) from Canvas Health, and she actually came out to see me play a show in Shoreview,” Nelson said. “She came up after the show and asked me if I would play at Stomp Out Suicide, and I was very happy to agree.”
Canvas Health took over the organization of Stomp Out Suicide last year as the event grew beyond what the originators could handle. The event was founded in 2012 by Sean and Katie Haines in honor of their daughter Alissa, who was lost to suicide in Dec. 2011. In a letter posted to stompoutsuicide.org, the Haines explained the transition.
“What began as a small, all-volunteer group of passionate survivors with a dedicated base of community support has become a household name in the greater Wyoming area,” the letter read. “Over the years, with support from the community, we have continued to grow. We’ve worked alongside numerous mental health advocates and organizations in hopes to create a comprehensive suicide prevention resource for those in need. We have no real training or experience in the field, just a strong passion for suicide awareness and prevention. That’s why, after reaching our 5-year anniversary this month, we’ve decided that it’s time to take the next step in our healing process as a family. It’s time to let the professionals take the lead.”
This year’s Stomp Out Suicide event will feature the 5k walk/run, a balloon release in memory of those lost to suicide, and will also offer people the opportunity to bid on several silent auction items, including a 1938 Allis-Chalmers tractor. The tractor was restored and donated by Richard Collen in memory of his great-grandson Tim Hickerson, who died by suicide in 2015. The minimum bid for the 22HP tractor is $2,500. To place a bid on the tractor, contact Betsy Taylor of Canvas Health at email@example.com or 651-275-4303.
“You’re Not Alone” is featured on Jake Nelson’s self titled debut album and can be purchased on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and Google Play as well as at jakenelsonmusic.com.
“My message to people struggling out there is to know that you are not the only person who is going through this,” Nelson said. “There are people who don’t even know you and that do genuinely care.”