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‘She wanted to make the world a better place’ : Whitley County family shares daughter’s story to raise awareness

Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 4:34 PM EDT
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WHITLEY COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - For those who knew Whitley County teenager Bethany Lawson, they say she was a ray of sunshine who loved her family, friends and helping those in need.

“She is what I would say a light in a dark room,” said Melissa Lawson, her mother. “She loved life. She embraced it. She was good at everything she tried to be... to do. She loved…her passion was charity.”

On August 11, 2018, things changed.

“During the investigation, I was the first responder and there are certain scenes that stick with you,” said Whitley County Deputy Sheriff Mike Lawson. “By far that is the one scene that has stuck with me.”

Bethany committed suicide at 16 years old.

“I couldn’t process that. I couldn’t … how does your child that was perfectly fine 30 minutes ago, how did.. my mind would not process that,” said Bethany’s mother.

In her memory, her family started Bethany’s Hope to raise awareness. While September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month, her family stresses the importance of looking out for one another each and everyday. The mission statement from the program comes from a poem Bethany loved.

“Leave people better than you found them” said Melissa. “Not necessarily suicide prevention complete focus but what leads to that… because there are so many things that lead to suicide ideations.”

Melissa said the program helps not only families but individual people through trying times.

“It’s not always mental illness,” she said. “It can be mental illness, it can be situational, it can be trauma, it can be physical pain, mental pain, you know PTSD, bullying. There’s just so many areas that lead to that.”

Melissa said Bethany’s Hope and other events help remember her daughter, who cared deeply for others.

“I mean that’s what she wanted,” she said. “She wanted to make the world a better place and what better way to do that… than to leave every person that you come in contact with, better than you found them.”

Melissa said the annual suicide prevention walk was held virtually, due to the pandemic on September 18th.

She said an annual horse ride is scheduled to happen on October 23rd.

For more information on Bethany’s Hope and more, click here.

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