Hundreds of shoes circle display at Nebraska Medicine to illustrate impact of suicide

288 pairs of shoes circled around Nebraska Medicine, Friday to bring awareness to suicide.
Posted at 6:43 PM, Sep 08, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Boots, sandals, sneakers, heels: 288 pairs of shoes circle the healing-hands statue at Nebraska Medicine. They honor the Nebraskans who the CDC says died by suicide in 2021.

"Losing my sister, I miss her every day. It's been about six years and I just think of all the things she's missing," Jennifer Bond Buman said.

Seeing the shoes, Bond Buman is reminded of her younger sister, Julia.

"My sister loved yoga. She loved hiking."

Jennifer Sparrock, who works in a psychiatric unit, said that although the shoes are empty, they represent something more.

"You can visualize that there are a pair of tennis shoes that was someone that was maybe a runner," she said.

Sparrock said having a simple conversation can help save a life.

"The conversation is one of the most important things that we can do so that people know that they don't have to be ashamed of having a mental health challenge," she said.

A beacon of hope is etched in the ground by the various colors of chalk.

"Having lost somebody, it says that these lives mattered. These were people's kids, siblings, moms, daughters, wives, husbands," Bond Buman said.

And hope is the focus that our actions big or small could change the path someone takes.

All the shoes on display will be donated to patients who need them at Nebraska Medicine.

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