Onslow County residents gather to remember loved ones at overdose, suicide vigil


JACKSONVILLE, Onslow County - People gathered at Jacksonville Commons in Onslow County Monday to honor their loved ones who died due to suicide or overdose and stand together to support those still fighting those battles.

One woman in attendance shared her story with NewsChannel 12's Merrilee Moore about losing someone she loves to suicide.

"I miss him very much but there's not really anything that I could have done more other than to be there for him." Jasmine Ambrose said. "He was active duty and had been deployed quite a few times."

Seven years have passed since Ambrose's loved one passed, but the feeling of loss still lingers, she said.

"He fought really long and hard and I tried to stick by him as much as possible and he ended up succumbing to himself and his own demons inside," Ambrose said.

Active duty, veteran or civilian, struggles with addiction and mental health reach beyond job titles and status.

"We all have mental health challenges. It's about connecting with ourselves - mind, body, and spirit - and in the community as well," Dan Whitten, a community advocate, said.

Whitten believes standing in solidarity as a community is key for finding a solution.

"Suicide and overdose is far too present in this community so we want to provide a platform to promote healing really. To have that dialogue, that discussion about it's okay to discuss suicide or overdose," Whitten said.

It's a discussion many, including Ambrose, plan to continue. She still mourns the loved one she lost so many years ago.

"Basically because of his pride, he did not seek out help," Ambrose said.

"What I want people to take from this vigil is that we see you, we hear you, and we're here for you to become involved and to show you how to become involved," Whitten said.

Two therapists are present at the vigil for anyone who needs them. There are also memorial boards for people to put up photos of their loved ones and sign their names as a pledge to remember.

A petition is also going around at the vigil for people to sign. It requests the Senate and the House to continue funding mental health and addiction services.