Mother Still Grieving After Losing Daughter To Suicide 10 Years Ago

Mother. Janine Harris, wants to bring attention to mental illness and suicide

Sorry, this video is no longer available

Suicide rates in the US have steadily climbed since 2013. One person dies by suicide every 12.8 minutes. This prompted Governor Dennis Daugaard to proclaim this week suicide prevention week (Sept. 7 – 13), in conjunction with national suicide prevention week.

A Sioux Falls mother, Janine Harris, 61, is still grieving, ten years after losing her daughter to suicide.

Nicole Vallie Harris, Nikki, was like any girl graduating high school. Her focus on prom, college and the endless possibilities of life post-graduation topped her mind.

“She was working two part-time jobs, and she wanted do something more with her life. She was talking about going to college,” says Harris.

Nikki had a boyfriend – one who took more interest in her than she did in him. The stress of leaving him and having her parents’ divorce at 14, she began to battle depression. Red flags Harris now sees in retrospect.

“She really went downhill,” recalls Harris, “then a couple days later she killed herself.”

Nikki took her life in June 2005, and since her passing her mother alongside other family members, began a 5-K run/walk to raise money in her name.

It is money that students at the University of South Dakota, could use for mental health concerns and travel. An event she hopes, Nikki is watching.

“If they could see this, it they only know how much they were loved. That’s what always gets me.”

Harris says the walk is a way for people to all remember and grieve without having to say a single word – a counseling piece of sorts.

“Here, we’ve established something where people can come out, and they can grieve,” she adds, “it’s non-judgmental. Everyone knows what everyone else has gone through.”

But even then, for Harris, it’s something she can never forget.

“Sometimes it’s still like yesterday. It’s nothing that you get over. You never get over it. It’s something you have to learn to live with.”

The Nikki Fund 5-K will be held again this Saturday at Prentis Park in Vermillion. Those interested in running can still sign-up here.

The suicide helpline center answered close to 1,600 suicide-related calls through 2-1-1 last year.

If you, or someone you know has considered suicide, please call the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

National Suicide Prevention Website