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Northwest Missouri family is turning their tragedy into opportunity to help others

September marks National Suicide Awareness month and across the country families lose loved ones to suicide every year.

Posted: Sep 21, 2020 9:45 AM
Updated: Sep 21, 2020 10:10 AM

(MARYVILLE, Mo.) September marks National Suicide Awareness month and across the country families lose loved ones to suicide every year.

One northwest Missouri family is turning their tragedy into an opportunity to help others.

"He always included everyone and made everybody feel special. You couldn't ask for a sweeter kid. He was just a really good kid." Chancey Herbert said.

Chancey speaks proudly of her son as any mother would but unlike many mothers, Chancey knows a pain not many can relate to.

"Don't wait until it's too late,” Chancey said.

On February 15, 2018, Chancey and Landon Herbertt's middle child and youngest son, Ledger, died by suicide at just 15-years-old.

"We didn't know ledger was that bad until it happened,” Landon Herbert said.

His parents, nor anyone around him, saw the signs of that tragic day, they were told he was excited at school and just got a part in the school play but something changed that afternoon.

"What happened between the time he got home until when he did it, I don't know,” Landon said.

The month of September is recognized as National Suicide Prevention Awareness month, a time to share and help others which is something the Herbert's continue to do with Ledger's story.

"People want to sweep it under the rug and they think if you talk about it, it will bring on more suicide, but i think it's the exact opposite, so we need to talk about it more,” Landon said.

Many times friends and families affected by a suicide loss don't know where to turn which is why, Ledger's family created the phrase #lovelikeledger and a softball tournament every year, not to glorify the act, but to remember their son, while sharing their story of losing someone to suicide.

"It's a disease and it's like having cancer. they can't help it. it's just something that happens,” Landon said.

"It's definitely not an easy thing to talk about especially once you've gone through it,” Chancey said.

At the same time, they know thousands of people suffer from depression or some other kind of mental health concern so, it's why Ledger's little sister, Jade, took to social media to get people talking about depression and helping those in need.

"People don't understand what depression is and if you don't understand what depression is I would love for you to understand it. If your loved one needs it or has to have the help, it's awesome to be there for them and I wish I could have been there more for my brother, but it took a lot and not knowing the signs of suicide,” Jade Herbert said.

According to stats from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States with more than 48,000 Americans dying in 2018 and 1.4 million attempting suicide but those numbers can change.

That's something the Herberts believe. Suicide didn't define their son, it was caused by something out of his control.

"There were not a lot of signs cause it's usually the happy people,” Landon said. “They’re the ones that were smiling all the time and trying to help other people because they know how they feel, so they don't want people to feel like them."

Known as a lover and a hugger, Ledger's passing is something that can't be changed but his family hopes by keeping his memory alive and talking about his battle, they may be able to help someone else fighting their own battle.

"We don't try to hide it. it happened, so if we can help somebody or save somebody by doing something like this, then it's all worth it,” Chancey said.

The money raised from this weekend's softball tournament goes toward a scholarship in ledger's memory and toward the church camp he loved. His family hopes to also help children in need of school supplies.

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