WILLISTON, N.D. — A Williston couple has planted a tree in their front yard to honor their deceased grandson and raise awareness about depression and suicide.

A young Princeton gold maple stands in front of Loyce and James Rauser’s home, where their grandson, Erik Rauser lived with them since he was a teenager, the Williston Herald (http://bit.ly/2d6uuzs) reported.

Erik Rauser killed himself in June. The Rausers say the 35-year-old struggled with depression and shrugged off their attempts to urge him to seek help.

“He was depressed off and on, we tried to talk to him about seeking medical help, but for a guy that’s not the macho thing to do,” Loyce Rauser said. “He always said he’d be OK.”

The Rausers plan to plant more trees at the new Williston High School. Administrators say they’re working to find a spot near the school’s entrance for the trees.

“If we could save one life by coming forward. … Because it’s really difficult,” Loyce Rauser said. “The most important thing is to get help, some kind of help. It would be worth making a person angry at you if you could save their life.”

The Rausers hope that sharing their experience will help others.

“People don’t want to talk about it,” James Rauser said. “They want to hide, but you can’t do that.”

Erik Rauser was passionate about trees. He had graduated from the North Dakota School of Forestry and was planning to start his own tree maintenance business in Minneapolis.

Information from: Williston Herald, http://www.willistonherald.com

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