Dozens of motorcycle riders get together to support suicide prevention efforts

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SUAMICO, Wis. Nearly 45,000 people in the U.S. die by suicide every year, and in 2016 47 of those people lived in Brown County.

On Saturday dozens of motorcycles got together to support suicide prevention efforts in the area.

"I'm a survivor of suicide, I tried to kill myself a long time ago," said Jeanne Parrett, founder of the Annual Suicide Prevention Ride.

With the help of her family and friends, Parrett was able to get counseling with the Crisis Center in Brown County. Now, she's making it a priority to help others that may be struggling, through an annual bike ride. The ride raises awareness and money for the crisis center.

"It is huge, because it is a mental illness, it is an imbalance in our own selves and people don't realize there's hope out there, and this is what we're trying to make sure that they know," said Parrett.

"We rely on family and friends to connect their loved ones to help, but we also rely on individuals who are suffering to say that they need help, and I would encourage anybody who's feeling suicidal to make the call to the crisis center," said Tana Koss, Division Director for NEW Family Services Crisis Center.

Parrett says when the event first started there were only 12 bikers and now the event has grown to more than 85 bikers. Each bike displays a yellow flag on it, which represents the color for suicide prevention awareness.

"We want to let people know who we are when we are going down the road, so I spent hours and hours making each individual flag," said Parrett.

During the event, bikers were able to write a message on a yellow balloon to a family member or friend who fell victim to suicide. The balloons were then released.

"A lot of us have lost our friends and family through suicide, there's not one person here that has not been touched by suicide," Parrett adds.

Parrett says the most important message is to call for help if you need to, because you're not alone.

"We've been supporting about 400 different community members who are feeling thoughts of suicide each month over the last year," said Koss.

If you or a loved one have suicidal thoughts and need to speak so someone, you can call the 24-hour Brown County Crisis Line at 920-436-8888 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.