Hidden rocks in Scranton aim to raise suicide awareness

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Friends and family of Katie Shoener who died by a self-inflicted gun shot wound last year are leaving “no stone unturned” when it comes to spreading awareness about suicide.

“We want these rocks to start a conversation between families. It’s okay if you feel depressed, tell somebody,” said Sarah Shoener. She was Katie’s sister-in-law and through the “Katie Foundation” is hoping to keep her memory alive while saving others.

Volunteers attached the nonprofit’s logo with a barcode on the rocks and hid them throughout the city. Shoener got the idea after seeing other communities hide “kindness rocks” to brighten a person’s day.      The hope is that people will find these rocks and scan them to learn more about Katie and mental health resources in the community.

“A lot of the issues with depression start a little younger now with the bullying and social media and we have to start using that to our advantage,” said Kelly Barrett, the president of the Katie Foundation

If you find a stone, you’re asked to take a picture of yourself with it and share it on Facebook for a chance to win a prize. The Katie Foundation is also hosting a “5-k” costume run next month to raise awareness and funds for suicide prevention.

A portion of the proceeds will go to the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine’s Behavioral Health Initiativive. Leaders here plan on using the funds to strenghthen their efforts to fight mental illness.

“A potential focus right here at the medical school is that some people don’t realize but medical students are very high risk of suicide,” said Terri Lacey, the executive director, of the Behavioral Health Initiative.

Through the social media campaign and the upcoming race, this community is hoping to have a large impact.

The race is October 28th at Nay Aug Park in Scranton.

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