The story behind Whitney's Walk

By WEEK Producer

July 18, 2013 Updated Jul 18, 2013 at 7:40 PM CDT

BRIMFIELD, Ill. -- Karen Grotts of Brimfield was tending to Whitney's Garden, a special place in her yard dedicated to the memory of her late daughter.

Whitney Grotts committed suicide in 2004, when she was 16 years old.

"She was depressed. Unfortunately our society considers that a weakness and she was hiding those feelings from us," Karen said.

After losing their daughter, the Grotts family created Whitney's Walk For Life. The event is designed to heighten depression awareness and raise money for suicide prevention programs through Mental Health America of Illinois Valley.

Karen says depression is a bigger problem than many people may realize.

"It's huge. It's the third leading cause of death in the 15 to 24 year old group and the 10th leading cause of death overall," explained Grotts.

Thursday was the first time Karen Grotts had spoken publicly about the loss of her daughter. She decided it was finally time to take a more visible role promoting Whitney's Walk, which has raised roughly $700,000 for programs she says have saved lives.

"There have been kids screened at schools because of the programs we've implemented and who have gone into counseling," she said. "Their parents had absolutely no idea. I've had people personally come up to me at the walk, and other friends, tell me how their friends kids have benefited."

The 10th annual Whitney's Walk For Life is the morning of Saturday, July 27, at Jubilee College State Park. For more information, or to register, visit www.whitneyswalk.com .