Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2013, 7:27 pm

Rocky grads to get the word out about suicide at tonight's game

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By Jeff Wendland, wendland@qconline.com

Abbie Metz and some of her fellow Rock Island High School graduates are hoping to help those caught up in the pain associated with suicide.

The 2000 Rock Island High School graduate said she has seen "six or seven" former Rocks who graduated between 1999 and 2002 take their own lives in the past seven years.

"It's hard on everyone," Metz said, "I know, I've gone through it with too many friends recently. What we tend to forget is the pain and suffering goes away for the person who commits the suicide, but it lives on forever for the loved ones and friends they leave behind.

"The most recent suicide got me thinking how this is the wrong way for us to get to see each other for the first time in many cases since our high school graduation. We need to use our classmates as a crutch and a support system. That's when I created a page on Facebook for Rocky alumni. It started with 300 of us and over the last two weeks since we started to get the word out more, we've had 1,314 new people who have signed onto the page."

Metz and fellow Rocky grad Kim Wendland decided getting the word out to the community was just as important. They couldn't think of a better way to do that than at tonight's Western Big 6 Conference boys' game between the Rocks and crosstown rival Alleman at The Rock Garden.

The pair — along with some support from other Rocky alums, the RIHS Student Council and the Letterman's Club — will be getting the word out at the game by selling shirts ($15 for long sleeve and $12 for short sleeve) and hopefully wristbands. Sales will take place at both ticket areas with the proceeds being split between The MJL Foundation, a depression awareness and suicide prevention and support group; the Justin Sharp Foundation; and the family of Jordan Schmidt, the Alleman student who passed away last week.

"We just want to make everyone more aware of suicide and show them the avenues to take before it's too late," Metz said. "Suicide is not something anyone can prepare for. But if we can educate more people to see the signs not only for themselves but for someone around them, then we can slow down this scary trend."