ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (WFRV) - A local mom is turning her son's death into in to a learning experience for students.
It is a performance called "I am your neighbor", the name says it all.
Mental health disorders impact close to 58 million Americans each year. Ten percent of kids in the United States suffer from serious emotional and mental disorders.
Today students at Ashwaubenon High School saw a performance by "Erasing the Distance" a theatre group who highlights true stories of alcoholism, eating disorders, depression and more.
The performance is used to start a community conversation.
"I think for too long mental health issues have been swept under the rug, afraid to be talked about" says Meghan Hawley. She is part of the grassroots effort bringing this emotional event to Northeast Wisconsin.
"I think it is important for kids in high school to be sensitive. High school is a really trying time" Hawley points out.
It was a struggle for her son Alec. He lived with depression for several years, ultimately taking his own life in 2011.
"The bottom line is there is help out there for people and that what they are feeling is, they are not alone, but it is treatable and they can get help, that's why we are bringing them here" she says.
School social workers and counselors were on hand in case the performance inspired kids to open up.
"Talk about it a little bit, find out that others are going through this, find out that once you are able to work through it, you can have a healthy productive life" says Ashwaubenon Principal Mark Sheedy.
Scenes in the performance mirrored real life for Sheedy. 15 years ago he lost his son to mental illness.
"If I can talk about what he was experiencing, the things that he went through, then I can be of help to others" he says.
Two parents trying to take the stigma away and get people help to heal.
"If somebody can have their loved ones here with them, tomorrow, next week, it would make my heart so much happier" Hawley says.
There is another performance of "I am your neighbor" Tuesday night at the Meyer Theater.
It starts at 7:00 p.m. and tickets are available at the door.
Money is being raised for a scholarship in Alec's name.