It's been a little more than seven years since Twin Cities radio personality Paul "PT" Thomas lost his father to suicide. Since then, it's been Thomas' mission to spread awareness about suicide prevention.
Thomas, a co-host of The Wolf Wake Up Crew on 102.9 FM, first launched the #LIVIN Foundation to embrace the way his father lived, and has since teamed up with Brighter Days Grief Center to host an annual camp dedicated to supporting Minnesota families that have lost a loved one to suicide.
The second annual Camp LIVIN is a weekend retreat May 29-31 at True Friends Camp Courage in Maple Lake, Minnesota – just a stone's throw west of the Twin Cities metro.
The site features scenic lakeshore, wooded areas and fields adjacent to Cedar Lake, with the camp serving as an opportunity for families to disconnect from the chaos of everyday life and reconnect together.
"When you're shocked by a suicide, it has the potential to send the family into a weird spot, maybe a tailspin. It can bring a family together, but it's a tough thing for people to go through," said Thomas.
It's only $50 for a family of five to register. Click here for info on how to register.
The #LIVIN Foundation, and subsequently Camp LIVIN, are the result of Thomas learning how to cope with his father's suicide.
"The reality is, when I was faced with my own questions surrounding my father's death, I didn't have a lot of answers," he explained. "I found comfort and community in being open about the topic. I found that other people, given the opportunity to open up and tell their stories, find a sense in that they're not alone."
Camp LIVIN is a chance for families to find community and support as they continue to cope with a loss. All the while, it's three days of swimming, fishing, nature hikes, group games, a high ropes course and more. Fun and therapeutic, really.
Between 2000 and 2017, the suicide rate in Minnesota increased by approximately 50 percent, becoming the state's eighth-leading cause of death, according to the #LIVIN Foundation.
"I wish like hell that our prospects for Camp LIVIN were not increasing on a way-too-rapid basis," said Thomas.
His message to anyone contemplating suicide: "Someone cares about you. You just gotta trust us. Somebody cares about you."
You can watch Thomas' appearance on WCCO-TV in the video below.