Virginia family working to create suicide awareness license plates

Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 9:15 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - A family in Virginia is working to bring more awareness to a nationwide issue that is deeply personal to them and so many others.

Driving through the commonwealth, one thing you’ll notice on the roads is unique license plates. From common interests to hobbies or colleges and universities.

Jacqui Herron and her partner, Tina, are trying to get one inspired by her son Matthew on vehicles across the state.

“Matthew was a hell of a kid. He was a great kid. He was really into his drumline. Loved music, anything percussion,” Herron said. “He had a good heart and he was a great friend.”

18-year-old Matthew died by suicide in Dec. 2021.

Suicide was a leading cause of death in the United States in 2020, according to the CDC, which is about one death every 11 minutes.

“We wanted to try to figure out a way to get awareness out there, try to stop the stigma, or lessen it. It’s getting better every day but it’s still there,” Herron said. “We kinda tried to embrace all of the current suicide awareness and prevention colors in the purple and teal. We’re using the semicolon which is pretty well known now.”

The plate was developed by the Herron’s and was brought to life by Ann Ford.

To make the plate a reality, Herron needs 450 paid applications submitted by the end of the year. It is $10 for a standard plate, $20 to transfer your existing plate (up to 6 letters), and $20 for a new personalized plate (up to 6 letters).

Personalized plates cost $10 a year in addition to the vehicle registration and special plate fees.

If 450 people apply, the plate will be presented to the Virginia General Assembly in early 2023. The bill is sponsored by Del. Hyland “Buddy” Fowler Jr.

Herron hopes it will be a way to honor the lives lost to suicide and get people talking.

“We want to be able to get a conversation started and it’s a difficult conversation to bring up,” she said.

You can mail a check and a paper application to “Matthew Matters” at PO Box 597 Ashland, VA 23005. Money will be refunded if the 450 applicant goal is not reached.

If you have any questions, email: VASuicidePrevPlate@gmail.com. For more information, click here.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988.