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Teen raises suicide awareness for first responders

Posted at 1:12 AM, Aug 30, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — Depression and suicide prevention is not often a common topic around American dinner tables, but this weekend you can have that very conversation and a meal, all in support of first responders who sometimes need help themselves.

"What 16-year-old decides, 'Hey, I want to raise money so that people don't have to feel the way that we feel'?" Amy Clegg said.

That 16-year-old is Clegg's 10th grade son, Elijah. He's raising money for mental health and suicide prevention programs for Indiana's first responders. Their family is familiar with both firefighting and suicide.

"Suicide is a big part of my life because I unfortunately lost my brother and I know a few others who have unfortunately attempted but I gotten them help and I've tried to help them out as much as I can," Elijah Clegg said.

Stepping in and helping out is the mission of this firefighter's son and grandson after witnessing the frequent trauma first responders go through after responding to a 911 caller's worst day.

"I've just talked to them like, isn't this hard, how do you keep going? Like you probably have patients dying in your ambulance and you just keep going. Before we treat others we have to treat ourselves, that's the number one thing they tell me," Elijah Clegg said.

Treating first responders is the purpose behind Elijah Clegg's first annual cookout from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Firefighter Union Hall at 746 Massachusetts Ave. He said the $7 price tag for hamburgers, hot dogs, live music and a good time is a small price to pay to help create big benefits for suicide prevention and the Local Union 4-16 Firefighter Support Fund.

"As of 2017, we now have more fire fighters die by suicide than line of duty deaths. So it is real, its why we started our peer support team," Hank Harris said.

Elijah Clegg said, for now, he has no plans to follow his family's footsteps and become a firefighter, but his mom will tell you Elijah is still saving lives.

"He's very much a hero in my book," Amy Clegg said.