Mother of teen suicide victim honored for work to save others

Union Leader Correspondent
May 17. 2017 9:44PM

Tara Holmes Ball with her son, Drew, at the annual Connor's Climb 5K and Family Walk held May 6 in Exeter. (Courtesy)

EXETER — Tara Holmes Ball has been committed to saving young lives after losing her 14-year-old son, Connor, to suicide nearly six years ago.

The personal tragedy put the Exeter mother on an unexpected path that began with the creation of Connor’s Climb Foundation, a nonprofit organization aimed at raising awareness and providing education for youth suicide prevention throughout New Hampshire.

Ball, who serves as the foundation’s president, has worked tirelessly with many volunteers to provide training and bring a suicide prevention education program to nearly 40 schools around the state.

Her work with the organization was recognized Friday when she was given the 2017 statewide Champions for Children Award and provided a $2,500 donation to help the organization continue its work.

“We’re just grateful that the work of the foundation has been able to make a difference,” she said.

The annual awards are sponsored by the New Hampshire School Administrators Association.

Superintendent Michael Morgan of School Administrative Unit 16 said he nominated Ball for the southeast regional award because of her extensive work in suicide awareness and prevention following the death of her son, who was a freshman at Exeter High School.

While she was selected as the regional winner, Ball also earned the statewide award.

The award, Ball said, was really a result of the work of the many volunteers who help with the foundation, which earlier this month brought more than 400 participants together for the annual Connor’s Climb 5K and Family Walk.

“I see it more as our foundation receiving this recognition. It takes a lot of people to make it happen,” Ball said.

The foundation has a seven-member board of directors and countless volunteers.

“All we’re trying to do is make sure that kids in New Hampshire schools have evidence-based suicide prevention programming. Our goal is for every young person in New Hampshire and the adults around them to know what to do,” Ball said.

Ball said statistics show that suicide is the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 24.

Through her work, Ball has learned about young people who were on the verge of suicide, but didn’t carry out their plans after getting the help they needed.

“I have seen kids’ lives saved and I’ve heard stories of kids who have reached out and been helped,” she said.

On the nomination form, Morgan described Ball as a “passionate and dedicated spokesperson advocating for suicide prevention and training for students and adults.”

Through Ball’s support and funding from the foundation, the Cooperative Middle School in Stratham has trained nearly 2,000 students in suicide prevention.

“Since the training has gone into place there have been countless stories of students reaching out to trusted adults to get help for (themselves) or a friend,” said Catherine Clermont, who worked at the middle school but recently became an assistant principal at Exeter High School, in a letter recommending Ball for the award.

Ball encouraged any school in New Hampshire to contact the organization to learn more about its SOS Signs of Suicide Prevention Program.

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