Nixa student organizes ‘#4Jake’ campaign to honor fallen Nixa student
NIXA, Mo. (KY3) - On Tuesday, an entire community felt an enormous wave of emotion after learning of the loss of an eighth grader who attended Nixa Junior High. School.
A funeral for the eighth grader was held on Saturday, where more than a hundred family and friends gathered to remember his life.
The Christian County Sheriff’s Office says a preliminary investigation indicates that the death of the student was a suicide. One of the boy’s classmates wanted to find a way to make sure his name would not be forgotten.
“I didn’t know how at first,” said Nixa student Noah Perry. “Then I thought, ‘why don’t we spread awareness?’ Because this awareness thing is going to be for Jake. We want to spread awareness for him. And that kind of clicked for me.”
That is how Perry got the idea to start a campaign called “#4Jake.”
“We were in the same choir together,” Perry said. “We were both tenors. And I didn’t realize this, but Jake is actually five days older than me. And it’s just sad knowing that he’s gone.”
Perry said his campaign will make sure that Jake’s memory remains. Right now, it consists of stickers, bracelets and T-shirts. But it will likely grow into much more, he said.
The stickers are now slowly popping up in the windows of local businesses in the area, thanks to help from Perry’s mother. He said stickers on windows of local businesses will be an easy way to spread suicide prevention awareness.
“People are going to eat there, shop there and be there and then they’re going to see what we are putting out,” Perry said. “People are going to notice it, realize it and are going to continue spreading it.”
His mother said it is also a chance to let kids of any age know that depression is a real issue, and that others in the community are there to help them.
“We had two kids in two weeks,” Karen Perry said. “Two in two weeks has really rocked our community. I think the adults in our community really need to show the kids they have support, and I think it’s really important for the kids to see from the businesses and the adults in the community that they have a safe space.”
Noah Perry said the loss of his classmate was a hard reality to comprehend.
“This could happen to anybody, and the fact that it happened in my age group is even more scary,” he said.
Perry’s mother said it is important that people understand that anyone, even a child, could have problems they are dealing with.
Elisha Boch owns a business in Nixa. She now has a few stickers in her window to honor both of the fallen Nixa students.
”Just bringing awareness to the community and letting them know that we are here to support them, that they’re not alone and that they do matter is important,” Boch said. “And that’s what the stickers say.”
Boch said the awareness campaign has hit very close to home.
”December 11 was the four-year anniversary of my brother in law’s death,” she said.
Her brother in law also took his own life. Boch said she hopes this effort will help shed light on a topic that is often not discussed enough. Her husband also works as a suicide prevention liaison with the Army reserves now.
”People don’t realize that it is an actual issue in our country and even our tiny town,” Boch said. “People don’t realize how serious it really is.”
She also has children, something that made this week all the more difficult.
“You just never think you would go through that and when you hear of somebody so young going through that, that’s the part that I think hit the most... that we have young kids as well,” she said.
Noah Perry’s mother helped him organize all of this. She wants her son and others in Nixa to remember one thing from this week; the grief across a whole town is a sign that each life does matter.
”I really wanted him to pay attention to see that Jake’s life mattered and he had a huge impact on his community, and his peers and his teachers,” Karen Perry said. “And Noah has that impact on people and every other kid has that impact on people.”
As for Noah Perry, he wants each sticker to help others know they do matter.
”Whether you’re a breathing human being, you need to talk about your feelings and express yourself the best you can because this stuff, like my mom said, happens all the time.”
Perry and his mother say they are also working on shirts and bracelets for the community as well. His mother says they have also started working with the city to find new ways to spread suicide prevention awareness.
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