GREENBRIER, Ark. – After the city of Greenbrier experienced loss of a high school senior and stereotypes of being a small town clique last year, a mural stating “You Belong Here” was painted on the largest wall in the city.
After the loss of Hayden Simpson to suicide, it sent shock to the community. Kari Barnett, the mother of Hayden’s best friend said, “it was really an eye-opener as to what mental illness looks like…or what it doesn’t look like”.
Kari also said, “to this day we have not one clue that would’ve pointed in the direction of anything being wrong”. She said in his letter, he wrote that he wish he would’ve talked to someone.
So, the Hayden Simpson Fund was created. Barnett said that people donated around $30,000 to the fund to bring mental health resources to Greenbrier High School. These resources included training around 100 students and faculty at the high school on how to respond and take action when someone struggling with mental health, a 5-k Walk of Hope, and selling of t-shirts.
With these new resources, Barnett said, “we’ve seen evidence of people being helped”.
After this loss, the Chamber of Commerce had a mural painted by Jessica Jones on the wall of the Dollar Tree in the center of town. According to the Chamber’s website, they decided “the theme for the mural, because far too many lives have been lost to suicide in our community, and our town has a stereotype of being fairly closed off to outsiders/newcomers.”
President of the Chamber of Commerce for Greenbrier, Ashton Pruitt said, “I love seeing people in the afternoons stop by and get a photo in the front of it. That just makes you feel like… man we really did something.”
Pruitt also said, “it almost makes me teary eyed because people here care. You’re not going to find that anywhere else… I mean you might – It’s just not the same. Greenbrier is very special, just like this mural and our people are what makes our community absolutely special.
Here are resources you can use if you, or anyone you know is struggling with mental health please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).