Suicide awareness

Sisters India Sipe, left, and Ashley Leonard are teaming up with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to host a bowl-a-thon from noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, at the Mount Carroll Bowling Center.

By SAMANTHA PIDDE

Two sisters are joining together to raise awareness concerning suicide.

India Sipe and her family have been touched more than once by suicide. Two years ago she lost a son to suicide. Within the past year, she also lost a niece to it.

Sipe and her sister, Ashley Leonard, have been attending suicide prevention events in Clinton, Iowa. Now the sisters want to start a dialogue and bring increased awareness about suicide in Carroll County.

"It seems like nobody wants to talk about it," Leonard told the Mirror-Democrat/Times-Journal. "So we wanted to bring awareness to the area."

The two women are teaming up with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and will be hosting a bowl-a-thon from noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, at the Mount Carroll Bowling Center, 206 N. Main St. The bowl-a-thon will include three heats. The cost for participating is $20 per person or $80 for teams of four. Prizes will be awarded to the winning teams in each heat.

The event will include an information table, a 50/50 raffle, a silent auction, a bake sale and T-shirt sales offering with two different shirt designs).

Guest speaker Tosha Maaks will talk about suicide prevention at 3 p.m.

Most of the money raised will be donated to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, with some of it going to the West Carroll School District to help pay for a speaker and other methods of raising suicide awareness.

Leonard and Sipe said they hope to make a deep impact in Carroll County concerning suicide prevention. Leonard said she eventually hopes to start a local chapter of the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. She also would like to see a suicide call center in the area to provide information and support.

Leonard and India said one of the biggest problems in getting people to support suicide prevention is getting them to talk about the subject. They noted that most parents, especially, are reluctant to discuss the issue with their children.

"They feel if they don't talk about it, they're not putting the idea in their children's heads," said Leonard, adding, "The problem is if you don't talk about it, then you find out after it happens."

Sipe and Leonard said that planning the event and raising awareness has taken a lot of work and they would love to see more people involved. The sisters have knocked on doors, spoken to businesses for donations and have been spreading the word on social media. They have a "Suicide Prevention Event" page on Facebook.

Despite all of the time and hard work, Sipe said planning the event has actually been healing for her.

"If I can help at least one person, at least I can feel like I'm doing something,” she said.

For more information, visit the event's Facebook page or call Leonard at 563-212-6034 or Sipe at 815-212-1709.

They both encourage people to sign up for the bowl-a-thon or become involved in some other way.

"Everyone has been affected by suicide (in some way)," said Leonard.