Nixa, Mo. student’s suicide awareness campaign ‘#4Jake’ becomes a billboard
The billboard is located near Highway 65 in Ozark
OZARK, Mo. (KY3) - A Nixa student is working to let his peers know they’re not alone. A new billboard in Ozark, just off U.S. 65, is one of the ways to try to prevent suicide, especially among young people.
“If you’re ever alone, know that you matter in every single way possible, even if you feel alone, that’s what we’re trying to do, that’s what we’re trying to spread,” said Noah Perry.
Noah lost one of his best friends, Jake Johnston, from suicide in December. Since then, he and his mom, Karen Perry have worked tirelessly to raise awareness to the importance of mental health and how to prevent teen suicides.
”It was actually Noah’s idea,” said Karen. “After Jake passed away he wanted to do something for the Junior High. He wanted to [create] a group of kids where they knew that their lives meant something.”
The family created the #4Jake campaign, distributing bracelets, stickers, apparel and even creating social media platforms to help both teens and parents find the resources they need.
”Jake’s dad texted me that there’s kids texting him saying ‘I’m so sorry that you did this, you saved me. I was going to commit suicide and you saved me,” Karen said.
he newest addition to their efforts was a billboard.
”I reached out to Lamar Advertising here and they donated the first four weeks of the billboard,” Karen said.
Every car headed northbound on U.S. 65 will see the message “YOU MATTER” with resources.
”If you’re on the bus and you’re going to go home and you’re going to commit suicide or if you’re on your way to your grandparents house and you see something like that, a billboard, that says ‘YOU MATTER’ or a sticker on someone’s car that says ‘YOU MATTER,’ it lets them know inside that you matter,” Noah said.
Jake’s mom Amy Johnston said the support has been overwhelming. She hopes the #4Jake campaign helps every child know they’re not alone.
”Jake’s death will not be in vein, and it’s not going to stop here,” Johnston said. “We’re going to keep going and we’re going to save lives, for sure. "
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