STRYKERSVILLE, N.Y. — Korie Leitten loves living in the country. It's quiet, calming, and peaceful.
She loves the silence, but recognizes that silence isn't always a good thing.
Leitten knows it's not always easy to talk about mental health and suicide. She also knows all too well what it's like to have someone close take his own life.
She's only 23 and already knows three people who committed suicide.
"No one really expected it because he had such a bright personality, and he was such a funny kid," said Leitten, speaking of her late cousin.
"There's such a stigma around it, and I want to break down that stigma and let it be a casual conversation because once it becomes a casual conversation people are going to feel more comfortable talking about it and more comfortable getting help," said Leitten.
A makeshift roadside produce stand isn't necessarily the place you'd expect to start a conversation about mental health. Dutch Hollow Road isn't terribly busy, and people often speed past. But for Leitten, if even just one person stops and takes notice, her efforts are worth it.
"[I do it for] the people who live in this area who might be struggling but might not know there's a resource in this very small community," said Leitten. "I hope this starts the conversation of 'it's okay to not be okay' and it helps people feel okay with being vulnerable and opening up and expressing their true emotions," said Leitten.
She's made about $15 from selling veggies and will donate the proceeds to a local suicide prevention program. Leitten has also gotten about $100 worth of donations on top of that.
But this stand isn't about money. It's about starting a difficult conversation — and hopefully saving a life.
If you or someone you know needs help or someone to talk to here's a list of resources:
24-hour hotline in Erie County: (716) 834-3131
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-TALK (8255)
New York State Crisis Text Line: Text "Got5" to 741-741
Chautauqua County Suicide Prevention and Crisis Hotline: (800) 724-0461