TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Team of Mercy hosted its 1st annual ‘Dog Days of Summer’ event on Wabash Ave. on Friday.

This community event featured a dog show where dozens competed for the top dog prize. This unique event helped raise awareness about suicide prevention and mental health.

Team of Mercy Executive Director Christina Crist said that bringing community members together will help end the stigma around mental health.

“Let’s celebrate that and break the stigma,” Crist said. “That’s how we’re going to make real change is bringing people together.”

All proceeds of the event will go towards Team of Mercy and its mental health services. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for people between the ages of 14 and 35 in Indiana. Crist said that events like these will help prevent suicides.

“That is a huge age range and it is shocking that it is the second leading cause of death knowing that suicide is the most preventable death that there is,” Crist explained.

Dogs can be like therapy for those experiencing grief. Crist said that they use therapy dogs at Team of Mercy and even had a few at the event.

Many of those who attended said that they were happy to help promote suicide prevention while having their dogs by their side. Emily Murray was one of those attendees and said it was a pleasure to be at the event.

“It’s really cool that they could combine Team of Mercy with dog lovers because they’re so many of us,” Murray said.

This was part of the thought process in making this event happen. Crist said that this was a great way to bring the community together.

“We wanted to do something that really brought our entire community together,” Crist said.