Eau Claire (WQOW) – Cup by cup, people in the Chippewa Valley helped suicide prevention efforts just by drinking coffee Thursday.
More than 700 Wisconsinites die every year by suicide, according to state officials. It can touch people from all ages, races, and walks of life.
One Eau Claire coffee shop raised awareness Thursday by donating to help those with suicidal thoughts, and pay respect to families whose loved ones completed suicide.
At The Living Room Coffee House and Roastery, owner Madison Lovelien tries to make all her customers feel at home, and often asks a simple question like “how are you doing today?” One day she asked that question, and a customer opened up about his struggles dealing with a loved one who completed suicide, and his story touched her heart. “I knew instantly that we need to do something to help make that day of grieving and change and sadness better for him somehow,” said Lovelien.
Lovelien said that’s when she decided to create a fundraiser to bring awareness to suicide prevention efforts. For every coffee bought Thursday, the coffee house is donating a dollar to Sharing Hope Chippewa Valley. The organization helps raise awareness and provide resources for people struggling with suicidal thoughts.
News 18 has decided not identify the family or the child who completed suicide, because officials with that organization believe it could cause suicide contagion. Click here for more information about suicide contagion.
“This past week a statistic came out, I think it was the years between the years of 2007 and 2015, the suicide rate of children under 13 has doubled, which is kind of heartbreaking,” said Jeni Wetzel, part of Sharing Hope Chippewa Valley.
Lovelien saw that heartbreak when she connected with that customer. “They’re just walking around waiting for people to ask, and waiting to just share it and so that’s what I would love to see, is just a continual support and just preparedness to just speak with whoever comes their way,” said Lovelien.
One by one, showing up for a cup of coffee was a way of showing up for each other. One customer went above and beyond. “He just came in and opened his wallet and put in a brand new $100 bill, and just walked out and it was really incredible,” said Lovelien.
“If you notice somebody struggling, if you notice someone having a hard time say ‘I kind of noticed you’re having a tough time you want to talk about it?” said Wetzel. “Don’t be afraid to talk about it and reach out if you’re struggling yourself.”
If you believe someone you know is suicidal, there are tons of resources out there to help. Click here as a starting point with information from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
For more information on Sharing Hope Chippewa Valley, click here.