Family combats suicide with charity softball tournament

Event in response to 21-year-old's suicide in 2011

Published On: Aug 05 2012 03:48:40 AM CDT   Updated On: Aug 07 2012 04:10:55 PM CDT
JUDA, Wis. -

When a loved one takes his or her own life, those left behind can be too shattered to cope.

But one Green County family affected by suicide has decided to take a bat to the issue in hopes that their stance can prevent others from going through similar devastating pain.

Tyler Pierce was just 21 when he took his own life in 2011.

In response, his family formed the "Tyler Pierce Memorial Softball Tournament" to honor his love of sports.

About a dozen teams took the field over the weekend in Juda to celebrate Pierce’s life and love of sports.

"You get to remember a good friend, play sports, have fun," said friend Beau Benner. "So it's more of a celebration than a sad thing."

"There's such a stigma surrounding suicide and mental illness right now that it's hard for someone to see there is light at the end of the tunnel," said friend and attempted suicide survivor Veronica Bartels.

Tyler's family created the softball tournament after he took his life in March of 2011.

Tyler's dad John Pierce said awareness is the key to combating suicides.

"It's a disease we're dealing with, mental health disease," said John. "He wasn't diagnosed but nobody could really see it."

The baseball diamond was full of some of Tyler’s high school friends. They said they'd like to see a county-wide program showing others that suicide is not the way out of troubles.

"There's a lot recently, 10 in Green County that I can think of, in the last few years," said friend Kyle Nyman. "It's sad."

"The number of suicides keeps getting higher and higher, especially kids that are younger in the area," said friend Tara Allen. "Even in our college town you hear of it quite often too."

Regardless of who claimed victory on the field, Tyler’s dad said the entire community will win when there a few more resources for area teens and young adults coping with the same issues Tyler struggled with.

"All the money we get after expenses will go to suicide prevention, to try and get something going here in Green County."

The tournament concludes Sunday at Juda Community Park on High School Road.