MARSHALL COUNTY, KY (KFVS) - After losing their daughter to suicide last year, one Calvert City couple is trying to find a way to help children that have had suicidal thoughts or made suicide attempts in Western Kentucky.
"We're still going through it," Angel Blackmon said. "She was my oldest."
Tony and Angel Blackmon lost their daughter Chaney to suicide on September 23, 2015. And on Sunday, May 1, they reached out to hundreds of people to help pave a way to prevent it from happening to anyone else.
They joined together with the 13 Marshall County United Methodists Church's Fellowship Outreach Program at the Mike Miller County Park in Marshall County, where hundreds attended both a suicide prevention booth and enjoyed music from four county church bands.
The Blackmon's decided in the wake of their tragic loss last year to start up their own organization called "By Chaney's Hands".
"We've lost, I don't know how many visitations we've been to," Tony Blackmon said. "We have a paper that we go to every Suicide visitation that we hand to the parents and basically it has a poem and tells them we understand. We may have a different experience but we understand."
Since Chaney died, the Blackmon's have been called countless times to talk with and help out other children with suicidal thoughts,whether it be because of bullying or because of mental health issues.
Angel Blackmon said they have seen an increase of suicide attempts lately in Marshall, McCracken, Graves and Livingston counties. She herself has intervened on 21 suicide attempts and helped out with multiple mental health issues since December 21, 2015.
"Basically we would get a call. We would go out and do an assessment. If they're at risk we would immediately meet with our board and vote and get them into therapy," Tony Blackmon said. "And therapy is, we started it when we lost our daughter. It took a lot for us to find therapy but we started it and it's absolutely life changing. When you find good therapy, it helps."
The Blackmon's feel the uptick in suicides and suicide attempts is partly due to the increase and constant accessibility of technology, especially social media.
"The way the kids live online 24/7, you used to worry about your kids at the bus stop from bullies and predators and now they carry them in their pocket," Tony Blackmon said. "You know, literally 24 hours a day they're accessible by anyone."
In honor of Chaney, people brought balloons, wrote a note on them and released them all around 5:15 p.m. Sunday to both memorialize Chaney and to help raise awareness for suicide prevention.
In February, Tony Blackmon said he received a letter from President Barack Obama on the loss of his daughter to suicide.
Part of that letter stated:
"Each suicide we can prevent, it's like we've saved Chaney," Angel Blackmon said. "Each one that we can't prevent, to us it's like Chaney dying all over again."
You can also visit By Chaney's Hands website at www.bychaneyshands.org.