'Secret Santa' hangs Christmas lights for families affected by suicide

A Treasure Valley man is acting as a "Secret Santa," putting lights on homes of families affected by suicide

In 2013, Stewart and Debbie Wilder lost their 17-year-old son Cameron Wilder to suicide.

Now, three years later they are mentally preparing for another Christmas without him.

"It's something you never get over and it never gets easier," said Debbie Wilder. "This time of year is really hard. All of his friends are coming home for Thanksgiving to visit their families and we don't have him. Our boys were like the heartbeat of the house and now it's gone."

For them, the holiday season comes with grim reminders of how different their lives are. 
 
"We haven't put up anything in three years," said Debbie Wilder. "Usually everything just stays boxed up."

This year is different, there are lights on the Wilder home, but they didn't put them up themselves.

"Having people pop up unexpectedly to do something nice is amazing," said Debbie Wilder.

"To see acts of good will is something really to celebrate," said Stewart Wilder.

Carson Zickgraf with Z Enterprises LLC has gone around the Treasure Valley putting lights on the homes of those affected by suicide.  

"I started crying," said Debbie Wilder.

He was given a list of families by an organization called Not One More Suicide.

"He was someone who had been effected by suicide and he just wanted to give back to the community," said Steve Ferguson, co-founder of Not One More Suicide.

Ferguson lost his son Jacob to suicide in 2014 and knows how difficult this time of year can be.

"For those of us who have lost a loved one to suicide it can just be a very sad time," said Ferguson. "He just knows how much it hurts people and he just wants to help brighten peoples lives."

Brightening lives, one string of lights at a time. 

"Seeing the lights on it was just really special," said Debbie Wilder.

"We just want to help people know that they can get joy back in their lives," said Ferguson. 

After Cameron passed away his parents started what's called the Live Wilder Foundation to spread awareness and to help remove the stigma from mental illness and suicide.

"The last thing we want is somebody else to go through what we've had to do, so I think that's what's driven the awareness," said Stewart Wilder.  

The foundation's motto comes from one of Cameron's Facebook posts that says "See my one goal in life is simple, it's to make someone smile everyday. I live for that."

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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