Our City Cares

Communities Combating Suicide

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The Mission: Unite Communities to Combat Suicide

Suicide is both an individual choice and a community problem.  When someone dies by suicide whole communities are impacted. The key is uniting a community voice to speak louder than the individual’s pain.  Suicide does not end the suffering of one, rather it transfers and multiplies it to the survivors left behind. Our hope is that we will encourage the hurting and send a clear message that suicide is not the right answer.

A tragedy with unparalleled ripple effect occurs when someone makes the choice to take their own life. The pain and heartache it leaves behind devastates and breaks the hearts and crushes the spirits of families and friends.  Whole communities of people are left with complicated grief and haunting questions. It sends a subtle hopeless message that spreads through communities like ripples in a pond.  It’s often unnoticed until another makes the same tragic choice.

We believe that by uniting communities to communicate a clear message against the lies that people in turmoil believe, we can change the ripple effect. Their life does matter, they are not alone, our mistakes don’t define us.  Our City Cares Campaigns exist to unite businesses, churches, non-profits, city governments and schools to combat the tragedy of suicide. The sheer magnitude of this problem is too big for any one entity to combat, but by uniting together we can and must make a difference.

The 911 Campaigns

Everyone agrees that the local epidemic of teen suicides is a tragedy.  Tragedies do have one redeeming value they unite communities. It’s time to give a new voice to this tragedy. If we had experienced a flood, a volcano eruption, or an earth quake, we would be uniting. We’ve got to start talking and it’s time to do more about this tragedy. National Suicide Prevention month is September, we suggest a 911 call is in order.  We are asking you to join us beginning in (9th month)and going for 11 weeks.  All campaigns have a start and end date, so 9-11 makes sense.  It is our hope that the campaign will start a new ripple effect of hope and community.  Our campaign has four powerful elements.

  1. Signs of hope distribution = The power of  hope and encouragement
  2. Walks and talks = The power of connection
  3. Equipping businesses, schools, churches with our community information cards. Local providers who are committed to providing help for those in need. = The power of service and community
  4. Providing a united calendar for the cause = The power of uniting

The Signs of Hope

Our world is hungry for hope and encouragement. Some people contemplating suicide are simply in bad circumstances and they need encouraging words. It has been said by suicide survivors when they were contemplating the decision that “they looked for a sign that they should not make the choice to take their life”.  We are taking that literally. Signs like these can help them break the negative cycle of thoughts they are in. The signs can be placed all over the city from billboard size too small walking path signs. Placing these signs in neighborhoods, near schools, parks and on highways can send a significant message throughout a city to someone who is hurting. Having community information cards and signs placed throughout a city with the City Cares logo can help direct a person to a business, church or a website where they can find help.

We wish to credit Amy Wolff of Don’t Give Up Signs for this great idea.

9-11  Walks and Talks – Reconnect 

Life can be hard and we all need a friend now and then. walking and talking with others can help us carry the burdens of life. Plus walking has great health benefits. Having walks implemented by multiple entities in a city can offer a no cost predictable place for people to gather and connect. We all know it’s true, part of the problem is our society is too disconnected.  Or we are connected electronically and that simply is not enough.

Part of Sheryl’s story is how her community came around her and for three and a half months different ladies showed up and just walked, talked and prayed with her. “I would never have made it through this far without them. I’m pretty sure I would be depressed and in bed”. They got me up, have kept me going and helped me to believe. something good could come out of this tragedy. All I did is sent a text to a handful of my friends and they showed up consistently and faithfully. We put away our cell phones and engaged in meaningful conversation. Sheryl’s friends reported they got as much out of it as they think she did.  I know this is something Jon would have loved too he loved to connect with friends and family.

Beginning in September which is National  Suicide Prevention Month, going for 11 weeks.  Both formally and informally organized, let’s get walking and talking. Let’s unite and connect our communities.

We’d like to keep this simple encouraging families, churches, businesses, to set a regular time and a place to walk, talk and reconnect. By registering your walks on our website and wearing Our City Cares Shirts you’ll be adding your voice to ours and be inviting others to join your group. It is all about connecting with others.

Businesses, Clubs, and Churches – Provide services

Businesses, clubs, and churches open at all times of the day and night so people can find the community information cards in many locations. No one is overwhelmed because they are all over the city.  A community uniting together can make a significant difference. Businesses and churches can identify themselves as having these cards available by simply adding the Our City Cares window decal to a front window and displaying the community information cards in a visible location.  Clubs without store fronts can be significant in getting signs placed throughout a community. Window decals, community information cards, and signs will all be available in the OCC store, some are free downloads.

We believe the encouraging words of the signs and the people behind the walks can help send a positive message through our community that our city cares. This can change the negative ripple effect of multiple suicides in a community.

The Story -A family impacted


Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It doesn’t end the suffering of one it transfers the pain to survivors left behind. Whole communities are impacted by this tragedy.

Seasons and feelings change… There is hope and there are people who can help in any situation.

The founders of Our City Cares, Joe, Sheryl, Dan, Skylar Stephens and Verla Jonason know first hand the pain of losing a loved one to suicide. They lost their son, brother, and grandson August of  2016.  Jon made an impulsive decision because of a temporary situation. Only one week before Jon left for college with a hug saying, “it’s not good bye, it’s see you later, I’ll be home for the holidays.” Jon was excited about his new chapter and yet when several things went sideways with his plans, he was caught in a negative cycle of thoughts that somehow over took his reasoning and he made a tragic mistake to end his life. Jon didn’t exhibit “the signs” commonly associated with someone who was suicidal. However, his circumstance spiraled to what he felt was out of control and he made an impulsive decision. The sad truth is, this is all too common, and any of us could be caught in a cycle of negative thinking. Young people under the age of 25 are often known to be impulsive and Jon was. Feelings often lie, Jon felt alone and because of his move he was, however, he could have reached out. Losing a loved one is horrific in itself. Losing one in this way adds salt to the wound. Friends and family are haunted with complicated grief because of the “could have, would have, and should haves” it’s a cycle we get into. It is imperative for our own healing that we recognize that the person who chose suicide made the decision, we can’t take on that blame or shame. If we do, we ourselves will be undone by the pain of the loss. This is a process and not done easily, it does require us to forgive the person for the pain they have inflicted on us.

We’ve learned we can give purpose to our pain.  By using it to help others we continue our own healing journey, and hopefully, we can stop someone from making the same tragic decision.   People in trouble don’t even think about those they leave behind.  Caught in their own painful cycle, they underestimate the pain a suicide causes and the unbelievable heartache imparted to those they leave behind. We feel that is another part of our message because survivors left behind also pose a significant risk of falling into that same cycle.

It is our hope that by flooding cities with positive affirming words, helping people connect to services and people. Our cities are full of people who feel alone, we can show them this is not true by uniting together to send the message if you are in trouble help is available. We hope that everyone will find something they can do within this the eleven-week campaign to make a change in their community.