DENVER (KDVR) — March is Women’s History Month and we’re taking the whole month to honor remarkable women right here in Denver.
When Sheri Cole lost her teenage son to suicide, it was a lifetime of grief experienced in a split second. A pain you never fully recover from, but in those crippling moments and years to follow this remarkable woman is finding a new way forward, touching lives and possibly saving others to make sure to no other family has to endure this kind of tragedy.
Sheri’s son David died by suicide in 2009 at the age of 16, after that Sheri’s life drastically changed course and put her on a new path.
“Nobody wants to be part of this club—but once you’re in it, you realize there’s a lot of strength and leaning on each other and supporting and helping,” Cole said.
Sheri took that very complicated grief and put it to use in a better place, helping others. She first started by organizing an event at her son’s high school to help his classmates cope. She then went on to form and chair the Colorado Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
After that, Sheri was unstoppable. She met with elected leaders, landed T.V. interviews, and held rallies, awareness events and campus walks. She’s made lifelong bonds through her shared struggle as well, helping others like Jo Anna DeMarrais who also lost her son, an army special forces soldier, to suicide too.
“She’s just been a real strength; a real motivator, a real light in the darkness; And I just think she’s so encompassing. She takes folks in and supports people—and is able to share her story and truly truly makes a difference,” DeMarrais said.
So what keeps Sheri going?
“We still have a tremendous opportunity to support one another and have hope for change,” she said.
Now, Sheri is in a place where she is able to look back fondly on memories with her son, knowing that her life mission is now far greater than anything else she ever envisioned for herself.
“It’s very honoring. I feel like—it sounds weird but I feel like I have this little cheerleader in my back corner—David saying “go mom.” Those that take their lives—we don’t want to forget them. We want to talk about them and keep their memory alive and we want there to be less stigma around this topic so we can treat it like any other loss,” Cole added.
Sheri is the third of four nominees. The final story will air Tuesday, March 30th.