At the creation of Wyatt Smith's family and friends, the first Walk For Life is being held at the Inglis track and field complex this Saturday at 9:30 a.m.
Megan Pratt is never going to forget Nov. 26, 2012.
“It was a Monday,” she said, adding that day she had to “push” her son Wyatt out of bed to get him to school. By the end of the day, Wyatt had died by suicide.
Nearly one year later, Pratt admitted she thought things would be getting better, but in the end the reality is nothing could be farther from the truth.
While Pratt said not a day goes by when she doesn’t feel the pain of the loss of her son, being involved in the lives of others she hopes to help is some consolation.
Pratt and Wyatt’s dad, Rich Smith, have both been very outspoken since the death of their son, who was a junior at RVHS.
From the day of the funeral when they made themselves available to Wyatt’s friends until today the two of them have been on a mission.
“This can’t happen to any other moms,” said Megan.
The sense of despair and the feeling of having your heart ripped out of your chest is a feeling she wants no one else to ever have to experience.
For that to happen, said Pratt, there must be a change in the culture, and that begins by being much more open about the issues surrounding death by suicide.
Family and friends helped to bring the issue to the forefront in September when they took part in an event in Willmar which was hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The event was called “Out of the Darkness.”
The group, called Wyatt’s Hope, took part in the walk at Robbin’s Island, and Pratt said it was a wonderful day, even though there was a lot of crying.
Another walk is taking place this Saturday at 9:30 p.m. at Inglis track and field on the Redwood Valley campus in Redwood Falls, and all are invited to come and help support the community action committee for suicide awareness and the local SADD Chapter.
Pratt said she plans to be in attendance to help raise awareness.
While she said a walk is a great event to have, the bigger issue that must be addressed is helping to change the stigma of mental illness, because until that happens suicides are going to continue.
“They are sick,” said Pratt. “This is a horrible illness, and we need to talk about it.”
Pratt said she goes to events like the walks with a smile on her face, because she knows it is one more effort being made to help address the thing that took away her son.
Wyatt, said Pratt, was a charming kid who was full of determination and energy.
He loved football, added Pratt, and he was an example of someone who did not judge people.
“Wyatt would sit down with the new kid at lunch,” said Pratt. “He was the kind of person who was ac-cepting of people and who would not have looked differently at someone because of the clothes they wore.”
Pratt said it is amazing to know the people Wyatt had encountered with friends all over the region as far away as Montevideo.
“There are no new memories I am going to have with Wyatt, and so I cherish the ones I do have,” she said.
Pratt said Wyatt was in therapy on a regular basis, and she said different things were being tried to get him the help he needed.
Wyatt was the kind of kid who was told he was loved every day.
Pratt wanted to encourage everyone to come out Saturday to help raise awareness and to educate themselves about suicide.