‘Be Kind’ campaign underway in Sauk City after teen dies by suicide: ‘We can’t have another one’

SAUK CITY, Wis. — Community members and businesses in the Sauk City area are reminding people to be kind to one another following a teenager’s death by suicide two weeks ago.

Sawyer Martin, 16, died on July 27. In the days and weeks that followed, “Be Kind” signs have sprung up at businesses and in front of homes in the community.

Missy Kubly, a close friend of the Martin family, said the two simple but meaningful words were inspired by the young man’s grieving mother, Jessica Martin.

“In (the) obituary she had some very powerful words and in that message she says just be kind,” Kubly explained. “The first thing we thought of was, ‘What can we do? How can we help? How can we be there?’”

So helping spread the message of a dear friend, Kubly, along with some other friends of the Martins, has so far compelled at least 20 businesses in Sauk City and Prairie du Sac to display the words Be Kind.

The group is asking that the message remain on display until the start of the school year and hopes the district will embrace the movement and even expand on it.

She also said she believes the current anti-bullying efforts in schools haven’t worked, so that’s why they are trying a new approach.

“Sawyer was definitely picked on and that is one of the reasons why he did what he did,” Kubly said. “This is actually the third person in Sauk Prairie who’s committed suicide in the last year and that’s three too many. We can’t have another one.”

The goal is for the signs to help start a larger conversation around mental health and suicide. The plan is with some visibility and repetition, being kind is something people won’t have to think about too hard but instead will just do.

In addition to the business displays, family and supporters will also be selling yard signs, t-shirts, and stickers to support the Sawyer Martin Scholarship Fund and local mental health resources.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues or considering suicide, there are resources available to help. Calling 988 nationwide will connect you to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. In Dane County, Journey Mental Health Center has a 24/7 suicide prevention hotline at 608-280-2600.