“In June of 2017, our 17-year-old-son made the decision to take his own life. I’ve heard friends say over and over that Chad would have been the last one that we would have thought would have made this decision.
We knew we couldn’t just hide and not do anything. We knew that we had an obligation to try to help somebody else not have to go through what we were going through. We never had this grand vision of starting a foundation, but our kids set up a Go Fund Me page and it touched a chord. It resonated at [our church] and it resonated in the school district because of a lot of kids we’d lost.
In [the Keep the Spark Alive Foundation] mission statement, we’re addressing suicide awareness and prevention. It would have helped Chad because he was more under the radar. He didn’t exhibit the typical signs of someone who you needed to be concerned about taking his life.
I love the fact that we’ve got programs in place that allow kids to recognize and be able to talk about mental health and suicide and know that they can seek help when they struggle. We’re [supporting] programs with kids helping kids, kids giving kids the tools to assess what’s going on with their friends, and if they see an issue, they can go to a trusted adult and get help. We also have a real passion for helping those left behind because each time this happens, there’s such a ripple.
Be comfortable having discussions with your kids that may be uncomfortable. And you may not get them to reciprocate, but you can’t ever give up. Cultivate a safe space where no matter what they tell you, no matter how heartbreaking it could be, they feel safe to do that.”
— Nathan and Sylvia Harrell
The Harrells founded Keep the Spark Alive Foundation to honor their son Chad and support programs designed to prevent teen suicide. The couple has also been involved in the #GiveMe20 LifeBox campaign. Based on the statistic that many teens go from thinking about suicide to acting on it in just 20 minutes, the #GiveMe20 LifeBox is a tool to help kids and young adults fight the darkness and remember why their lives matter in those same 20 minutes.
Learn more and build your LifeBox at giveme20.net.