Candlelight remembrance gathering gives hope to those struggling with depression and suicide

SHAWANO, Wis. One organization is hoping to connect people whose lives have been touched by depression, mental illness or suicide by holding a "Candlelight Remembrance Gathering" in Shawano Sunday. The ROADS organization, which stands for "Reaching Out About Depression and Suicide" has been in Shawano since 2002.

The remembrance gathering provides resources and a community based support system. ROADS board member, Jennifer Frost, says support is critical for those dealing with depression and suicide.

"Whether it's a professional or a natural support system, anyone that they can go to and feel comfortable talking to, that's huge," said Frost.

"What we're trying to do with the ROADS organization is educate people about it so they're not quite so fearful about bringing up the topic, because to prevent suicide basically we just need to learn to listen to each other, and be involved with each other, and be supportive to each other," said Ellen Swedberg, ROADS President.

The gathering encouraged everyone to participate in therapeutic art.

"Everyone is writing an image to what they believe to be hope, and what they feel might inspire themselves to be hopeful throughout the year," said Frost.

The remembrance gathering is focused on the message of hope, the art participants made is traded with one another at the end of the night, so every person can carry somebody else's message of hope.

"It’s something that they can look to in maybe a moment of difficulty to just feel grounded and that hope that healing and recovery is possible," Frost adds.

Those who died by suicide were remembered by a candle lighting ceremony at the gathering. The candle lighting also served as another sign of hope people can take home with them.

"We have to teach people that hope is actually a verb, it's something we need to do, it's an ongoing process and this is just part of that, they can then take that home with them and then light it when they need to light it," said Swedberg.