August 11 marked one year since a beloved southwest farmer’s long and hard-fought battle with mental health and addictions ended his life in suicide.
Bracken’s Trent Thompson is remembered by his loved ones for his boisterous laugh and passion for farming. The 49-year-old had a knack for agriculture from a young age, which blossomed into a successful career and a third generation at the family homestead before moving away.
Thompsons’s sister, Laureen Sandin, feels that it’s time to bring him back home.
A fundraiser in his memory is set for September 30 with all proceeds accumulated going directly to the non-profit Farm Stress Line, which operates 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
“He was my best friend growing up,” she said. “The whole event just kind of evolved from the pain I feel for the loss of Trent and the pain I feel for him that he lived with in his life and that he left us with in his death.
“More than anything, I just want to have him back. Knowing that I can’t have that, I was looking for ways to redeem his story. Then this vision came into my head of shedding light on mental illness and mental health issues... And I really want to remember Trent in the community where he grew up and where he was loved.”
SCMA 2023 Male Artist of the Year Justin LaBrash is heading down to Bracken draw out a crowd for a high-energy performance at the village's Hall. Accompanied by delicious food and drinks, a silent auction, and lots of dancing.
Anyone that knew Thompson would be familiar with the charisma and wit he carried with him. Sandin recalled him being described as ‘the person you want to stand next to when socializing.’
“I chose a dance in specific because Trent loved to country dance,” she laughed. “And he was an amazing dancer. He was so good at dancing. He was super tall, and his long legs would be kicking out, flying everywhere. I just knew that was the right event to host for him.”
Sandin no longer lives in the village and has been planning the event from afar. She said the encouragement and help of the locals has been so necessary and heartwarming.
As much as the event is a way to remember the adored farmer, his siter hopes it opens some eyes to the severity and realness of mental health struggles.
“Emotional pain and trauma, mental disorders—they're just, they're complicated,” Sandin said. “They're hard for us to understand and address in ourselves and in other people. And then we have denial. Stigma. Lack of knowledge and understanding. And those are all enemies to improving mental health.
"Statistically it's shown to be worse for men, and also I think for men who are farmers that those things are even more prevalent. That’s why I picked Farm Stress Line [as recipients], because they have trained crisis counselors, and they can be that initial contact with people who are experiencing a crisis or people who have loved ones in that situation. And then hopefully that can lead them to understanding, addressing and changing their mental health.
“It’s sometimes just a reality of life, like physical illness and physical injury. I. Think we have work to do [in creating] that awareness that people do struggle mentally just like people struggle physically. And it's okay to get help.”
Doors to Bracken Hall will open at 7 p.m. with the music picking up an hour and a half later. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $20 by e-transferring firstname.lastname@example.org or on the night of for $25 per person, or $60 per family.
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