CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- One Charlotte family says they can remember their son being depressed as early as the age of four and now they're working to make sure other families don't have to endure the loss they did.
Every year, Chris Madigan and his family take a moment to stop and remember Chris' older brother John on his birthday
“No matter where we are, we're all going to have a drink," said Madigan. "Could be water, beer, (a) juice box. (We) All get together and at eight, we're gonna toast John.
John's toast as they call it has become so popular — strangers are involved — they had more than 800,000 hits on social media last year from around the world.
“People have embraced this idea of taking a second to think about some people they've lost too soon in creative ways," Madigan explained.
For Chris and his family, it's about remembering John, who as Chris says, "was always looking over my shoulder."
This year, it's about something more. Not just remembering, but honoring John in a special way.
"John was depressed for a long time and that's where this really stems from," Chris said.
After struggling with depression for decades, John took his own life. Chris said his struggle began at a young age.
"The first time he felt off, he was four years old," Chris said. "Amazing to think anyone that young could have thoughts they didn't want to be around. No one talks about it and people are shocked, but it happens at an alarming rate."
So, Chris and his family are teaming up with a group called Pivotal Moments to build an online platform for people with mental illness to get help.
"Really, what we want people to do is have a conversation and end the stigma about something that is just every prevalent but still kind of hidden," Chris said.
Hidden but so very real. And often only uncovered when it's too late.
John's Toast is hosting a fundraiser to raise money for Pivotal Moments. You can find information about the event by clicking here.
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