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Otter Tail County woman who lost daughter to suicide fights stigma with cards

An Otter Tail County mom is using her grief and healing after losing a daughter to suicide to help other families in a unique way.

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Lorrie Carlson of Fergus Falls holds a card that is one of several she offers to families hurting.
Finn Harrison / WDAY News
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Editor's note: If you or a loved one is in crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) .

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — Sending a card sounds simple, but it's the message on these handmade cards that is reaching hundreds of those hurting.

"'The most precious gifts aren't things,'" said Lorrie Carlson, reading one of the cards.

She never dreamed of being in this spot.

"I think one of the other things that these cards do is they open the door (to a conversation)," she said.

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Carlson is the force behind the Glimmers of Hope greeting card project. It's an effort to get these cards out to those who need them most: people wrestling with mental health, families who lost a loved one and individuals who wonder if life is worth living.

"The foundation of resilience is what? It's hope. You have to have hope," she said.

For Carlson and her family, the loss is still fresh.

"She was a fun-loving girl, always loved animals," Lorrie Carlson said, describing her daughter, Elisha Carlson.

Elisha Carlson, who graduated from Moorhead High School, died by suicide in 2014 at the age of 37. She struggled with an eating disorder and depression for years.

"She actually overdosed or attempted suicide 16 times, and honestly, her angels told me and I saved her life," Lorrie Carlson said. "And when we lost her, I called one of my dear friends and I said, 'I don't know where her angels were.' And she said, 'Well, I think they were carrying her home.'"

Knowing the ripple effect of suicide, Lorrie Carlson reached out to a professional artist who helped put her words to paper. They are simple but powerful words. Inside the card are resources. Ways for people to get help.

"There's no Caringbridge. You don't put a post on Facebook. There's a lot out there. There definitely is a lot out there. There are so many people that are suffering right now. But still people are, for some reason, reluctant to reach out to someone that's really struggling," Lorrie Carlson said.

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The cards express the need to have hope and to let people who are hurting know they are essential. At least 1,000 cards are now out there, but it all started with just one card in memory of a daughter lost to suicide.

Lorrie Carlson has heard from many who have received one of these cards. The most comforting message she has heard from some are that the words saved them.

"I got five requests this past week (for cards)," Lorrie Carlson said.

How to order cards

Money raised goes to the local chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which hosts a walk in Fergus Falls and provides education to families and training for law enforcement

To order the cards, visit www.glimmersofhope22.com.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

Contact Email: kwallevand@wday.com
Phone Number: (701) 241-5317
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