A Mother's Mission
"Just the freedom. The sunshine. The sun on your face," Sherri said.
Sherri admits she's a novice when it comes to riding motorcycles. But reluctantly, she's also an expert in a topic she never dreamed she'd experience.
"Really there was no indiation that there was anything out of the ordinary. It actually seemed like a good day," Sherri remembers.
Sherri's son, Rick, had just turned 15 and was getting ready to start high school.
"Going through the house, there was no music, no TV on and it was just quiet. I went into the room and he wasn't there so I went into the garage and found him hanging in the garage. So, within the hour, my life just turned upside down. So, from what I've learned is that he didn't make the decision in that hour,"
Rick Hunger's suicide took his mom completely by surprise.
"It wasn't what happened in that hour. It was all the time before," Sherri said.
Sherri sought help from Pathways Community Behavioral Healthcare, a United Way agency for 25 years. Pathways offers counseling, family therapy and psychiatric services. United Way funding pays for those services when people can't afford them.
"We have people from all walks of life who come in and for whatever reason, don't have the resources so the United Way is there to get help for those individuals," Pathways VP Bob Whittet said.
Sherri now promotes Pathways' suicide prevention program, speaking to teachers, parents and students.
"You have the responsibility now that you're left. Normally, children are your legacy but with them gone, you've got to carry on their legacy," Sherri explained.
It's a legacy that now includes a memorial flagpole at New Bloomfield High School, and a mother's mission to make a difference by spreading her son's peace.
"And that's the one thing I'll know is that he's at peace and he's not struggling. I wish I could have helped him," Sherri said.
The United Way of Central Missouri recently announced a Capital fundraising goal of more than $1.5 million, which will help people in Cole, Moniteau, Miller, Osage and southern Callaway counties. Pathways is a United Way agency. Donations are being accepted online at www.unitedwaycemo.org .
Here are some tips from Pathways about preventing suicide.
QPR for Suicide Prevention
Question the Person About Suicide: DO they have thoughts? Feelings? Plans? Don't be afraid to ask.
Persuade the Person To Get Help: Listen carefully. Then say, "Let me help." Or, "Come with me to find help."
Refer for Help: If a child or adolescent, contact any adult, or parent. Or call your minister, rabbi, tribal elder, a teacher, coach or counselor. Or call a hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE.
Warning Signs of Suicide
* Suicide threats
* Previous suicide attempts
* Alcohol and drug abuse
* Statements revealing a desire to die
* Sudden changes in behavior
* Prolonged depression
* Making final arrangements
* Giving away prized possessions
* Purchasing a gun or stockpiling pills