TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — “You can either grow bitter or you can grow better; we have a choice.”
Christina Crist knows all too well about choices. Nearly ten years ago, her daughter Hannah made the choice to take her own life, sending Christina reeling into any parent’s worst nightmare.
Hannah’s death left Christina with her own choice; how to move forward? That’s when she was connected with Team of Mercy.
The organization is centered around helping loved ones after an attempted or completed suicide.
“Someone asking me, what is it that you need?” Christina said while explaining Team of Mercy’s services and how they initially helped her. “I needed like-minded individuals, you know, after losing Hannah. I didn’t need a trauma scene cleanup. I needed to be around individuals that knew what I was going through because every aspect of my life was getting ready to change, but I didn’t know how.”
In the years since Hannah’s death, Christina has become the Executive Director of Team of Mercy, leading the organization in new directions and spreading its reach to help more and more families.
“To see how much Team of Mercy has grown, the thousands of individuals that Team of Mercy has helped and provided thousands of dollars worth of mental health services, trauma scene cleanup, prevention, all the prevention that we’ve been able to offer businesses, organizations, and the children,” Crist said.
Children like Hannah, who was 15 at the time of her suicide. Children like Hannah’s friends, who had to grow up in tragic ways following her death. Their grief sparked a passion in Christina to help spread awareness about mental health with the goal of preventing more lives lost.
The impact Christina’s bubbly personality has had on Team of Mercy is reflected in its events – an annual color run, a summertime dog show, and lively conversations about hard topics at local schools.
But when asked about her accomplishments with Team of Mercy, Christina is quick to credit her co-workers and the volunteers who help with the organization’s events.
“You can’t do anything, anything by yourself, right?” Christina said. “I might be the face, I might be the one that everybody recognizes, but there’s a whole slew of people right alongside of me.”
A slew of people making choices to better themselves and others, all inspired by a woman who took a tragic choice and turned it into a remarkable movement.
Christina said she thinks about Hannah often, as any mother would, and imagines what her life would be. She’d be 25 – would she be married? Engaged? What job would she have?
The answers to those questions Christina may never know, but she finds solace in the idea of a conversation with her dear Hannah.
“I hope that conversation would look like ‘good job, Mom’,” Christina said, wiping away tears. “Look at all the Hannahs that you’ve been able to save. You know, you can’t save everybody, but look at the awareness you brought to your community, because of my death.”
Christina is one of four finalists for WTWO’s 2023 Remarkable Women promotion. Local viewers nominated women in their lives who they find remarkable and a voting process narrowed the submissions down to the four finalists.
To find out more about Team of Mercy’s mission, visit the organization’s website here.