Local mother helps families hold onto their loved ones

Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 11:25 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Suicide rates have been on the rise since the start of the pandemic.

After the suicide death of her son in 2020, a local mother is honoring his name by spreading kindness.

Waynesboro mother Nichole Tootle lost her son Kyle Knudsen to suicide in 2020 when he was just 22 years old.

She’s now helping families hold onto their loved ones with her donation of Heartbeat Bears in his honor.

“That bear means a lot to me because you know it’s this heartbeat. It’s something that is very special to me. And I’ve talked to other people that have gotten them. And it means a lot to them, everybody that I’ve talked to,” she said.

A heartbeat bear plays a recording of the heartbeat of a loved one. Thanks to Nichole’s donation of 200 stuffed animals, Children’s Hospital of Georgia nurses can give this special gift to families.

Nurses say that Tootle’s donation means more than she will ever know.

Ashlee Williams, CHOG trauma nurse, said: “They are a way that we are able to help the families that are going through a tragedy, have a way to remember their loved one.”

Tootle wants people to know that their actions and words have power.

“You don’t know what somebody might be going through, and just doing one thing for them on a bad day might save a life. I feel like it could have saved my son’s life,” she said.

Knudsen’s death anniversary falls on National Random Acts of Kindness Day, Nov. 27, and his mother encourages everyone to pay it forward in his honor.