A suicide support group is now in Bismarck after two friends say it was their experiences that led them to want to help others.

Design Tattoo Inked owner and artist Randy Drown along with his shop manager Byron planned a suicide prevention special.

Each person got a semi-colon, which represents suicidal ideation, it means pause, instead follow through.

“I did 300 tattoos in 3 weeks. We were overwhelmed with the response to it. And so 300 tattoos is 300 different stories that I heard while I was tattooing. Talking to the customers,” shared Drown.

It was the impact on them that made them realize they had to do more.

They realized in each story, there was a common factor missing, peer support.

“The message we’re trying to get out is you’re not alone. There’s so many people suffering with the same affliction and talking about. Especially in my own life talking about it and being upfront about it takes some of the power away from the disease or from the affliction,” explained Drown.

The guys have partnered with the North Dakota Suicide Prevention Coalition who says North Dakota has seen the biggest increase in suicides than any other state.

“So the suicide rates had actually increase 58 percent since 1999. And since COVID we know that more people have been reaching out to the suicide lifelines,” explained Alison Traynor, the Co-Founder and a Mental Health Therapist for the North Dakota Suicide Prevention Coalition.

Traynor says studies have shown that peer to peer support is more effective in suicide intervention.

The hope with this new group is to bring a level of comfort.

“We made up some popsicle sticks with different emotions, words and feelings. So we could pick a stick that becomes the topic of the meeting. And then we just go around one by one and share either about the topic or just your personal story right now. Or where you’re at right now,” explained Drown.

The group is open to anyone seeking support related to suicide whether they’ve struggled themselves, or know others who have.

They meet every Monday at the Serenity Place in Bismarck.