WAVERLY, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Waverly community has dealt with a lot this past year: COVID, deadly floods and now the loss of two young lives to suicide.
It's making an already difficult time even harder, but the community is finding comfort through prayer. They're now working through their pain to make sure no one feels alone in a time that feels so dark.
"We come to you tonight with heavy hearts. Hearts that are sad. Hearts that are broken," said Jeff Keele with Waverly Church of Christ.
The Waverly community came together in prayer, bowing their heads in search of healing Tuesday night at Cash Saver after two young lives were lost to suicide.
Jeremy McFarlin lost his 17-year-old son, Konnor, a week ago when he took his life. "My firstborn that I held and loved for 17 years, it was disbelief. This cannot be happening," said McFarlin.
He prays the community coming together will show everyone they're not alone and help is available.
"No one needs to see what I saw, what my wife saw. No one needs to see their mother, my mother, crying. And my grandmother barely able to go to a casket to see their great-grandson. No one needs to bury their child. No one," he said. "We as a community have come together because of COVID, came closer together because of the flood, and now we're bonding even closer because of these two tragic deaths."
Faith leaders at the gathering told parents that in order to move forward, they need to change their mindset.
"We want you kids to know right off the bat, we haven't been listening, but we're gonna start," said Joe Rhodes with New Johnsonville Church of Christ. "You're not alone. You're valued. There's someone who loves you. There's someone who just wants to listen to you. We want to hear you."
McFarlin hopes by sharing his struggle, others can learn from his family's loss and cherish each moment with their children. "Don't take anything for granted. I was looking forward to this summer with my son. I took him for granted. Don't do that. Go now."
Resources are available to students in Waverly. District counselors are making themselves available to students at Waverly Center High School.
If you or someone you know is currently experiencing thoughts of suicide, help is available. You can call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988, en Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889, or find more information at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website. Veterans can dial 988 and press 1 to reach the Veteran Crisis Line. You can also message the Crisis Text Line by calling or texting HOME to 741741.