The date April 30, 2016 will forever be etched in the memory of the family and friends of Nathan Kleinschmidt. That was the day the 17-year-old son of Corey Kleinschmidt and Beth Oslund took his life.

“Nathan was a big teddy bear,” said Corey. “He was helpful, loving and was always there when you needed help.”

Corey called his son a strong, but shy, child who was close to his classmates at Cedar Mountain High School, especially his football team. Nathan would have graduated from high school this past May, but his life was cut short by a decision that will haunt those who were close to him for the rest of their lives.

“I don’t want anyone to have to go through this,” said Corey, who has been very vocal about the loss of his son and the importance of raising awareness of suicide.

Since the loss of Nathan, Corey said he has gotten involved in different events and organizations that have as their mission to educate the public about suicide and mental health.

One of those organizations is Greater Redwood Area Suicide Prevention (GRASP). Corey said his involvement with GRASP started with its cycle run, and now he is becoming more active and vocal about the issues surrounding suicide. This Saturday he will be attending the annual GRASP Walk for Life being held at the lower shelter of Ramsey Park in Redwood Falls. The walk is scheduled to begin with check-in at 10 a.m. 

According to Katherine Brozek, a member of GRASP, this year’s walk will begin at the lower shelter and will end at the middle shelter (by Ramsey Falls). In addition to the walk, the event includes live music featuring Tim Cheesebrow, a balloon release and lunch, which includes hot dogs and chips served by the Redwood Falls Fire Department. Free-will donations are being accepted from those who attend.

“This is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said Brozek. “While it can be hard to track progress, I do believe our efforts are saving lives and supporting individuals and families through mental illness, and that is thanks to our generous and supportive community.”

The funds that are raised are used in the effort to end the stigma of mental illness and to establish efforts that focus on suicide prevention. Statistics show one in four people will develop a mental illness during their lifetime. It may be a mom, a dad, a sibling, a child, a friend or a neighbor.

What GRASP is focused on is making sure people know there are others who want to help those who are experiencing mental illness. There is help. Resources are available, and people who care are available to show people there are other answers other than suicide.

“Outreach is huge,” said Corey.

Corey added he has been so impressed with the people who have been there to help him and his family, whether that be from the community or the school, and now he is joining the ranks of those who are fighting back against suicide and providing help for those who feel it is their only option.

“I can’t thank enough those who have been there for our family,” added Corey.

While he said there were some anxiety issues his son Nathan faced, especially as a new school year would begin, he never would have imagined that he was struggling with something that would lead to his decision to become a victim of suicide.

“He was too young to die,” said Corey. “He was in the prime of his life. The hardest part for me is that there just did not seem to be any signs. I still think about what happened and about Nathan. It has been a tough road, but a lot of people have been there for support, and that has been awesome.”

Corey’s mission is the same as that of GRASP to raise awareness, to educate the public and to show people there is help. Others who want to join in that mission are encouraged to attend the GRASP Walk for Life this Saturday, Oct. 7 at Ramsey Park.