Dear Editor:

I am Shawn Smith and I am a mom walking as a survivor of suicide loss. My firstborn son, Candler David Smith, took his life on Feb. 1, 2017.

Candler struggled with anxiety and depression for the majority of his life. Candler told friends in fifth grade that he did not want to be around anymore and shared his plan for ending his life. I am ever grateful to those guys who immediately went to their school counselor at Duncan Creek Elementary School, who then immediately contacted Tim and me.

At that point in Candler’s life and moving forward, he was under the care of a psychiatrist, psychologist and pediatrician. Candler was also surrounded by the love and care of his mom, dad, younger brother and many other family members and friends.

Candler continued to have many hurdles throughout middle school and high school years. Those hurdles were in the form of grandparents passing away (all four during his high school years, a five-year time span) along with a close friend who died right in front of him from a heart condition no one knew about.

Do not be afraid to say the word suicide. Do not be afraid to ask if they are OK and know how important it is to sit with that person until that suicide ideation passes.

I invite you to come walk in the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention/Barrow County Out of the Darkness Walk on Oct. 24 at 2 p.m. at First Christian Church in Winder. Our walk will follow the Chalice Walk around our church campus and include the Winder-Barrow High School campus that backs up to Candler Street. I view that not as a coincidence but as the important meaning of speaking out about your mental health, your suicide ideation, and know that it is OK not to be OK.

Candler was a light to others and is now living on in others.

Won’t you please come walk with me?

Peace and Blessings.

Shawn Smith

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