Richland business encourages mental health awareness

September 10th is National Suicide Awareness Day

RICHLAND, Wash. – In December of 2018, Annie Ackerman-Brown’s and husband Terry Brown’s lives were changed forever. Their son, Kess, who was 19 years old at the time, died by suicide. Annie said Kess was a giving, loving and caring son who always wanted to help everyone around him.

“I miss his hugs, he was an incredible hugger, he was so kind, he had that free spirit about him that when he walked into a room, you could feel the love that came out of that kid,” Annie said.

The couple spent the following year healing and relying on their faith to overcome devastation. They never thought the man who was always helping others, needed help himself.

“That’s part of who he was, he always took care of everybody else,” Annie added.

After his death, Annie and Terry discovered how many lives Kess touched when a friend contacted them.

“He had reached out to us and told us that Kess physically saved him from taking his own life.”

Born from the devastation was Chill Encounters, a place in Richland where anyone can go to unwind and take care of their mental health by sitting in a massage chair while wearing a virtual reality headset.

“This is a great way in under thirty minutes that people can disconnect. Our focus is solely on mental wellness and healthy families,” Annie said.

Their other goal is to open up a conversation about mental health and suicide.

“I think the most important thing and I urge this, that parents have the discussion with their kids, they talk about how are you feeling, and mental wellness,” Annie added.

Amidst the heat lamps, essential oils and VR headsets, are two parents who have worked hard to spread their message and help others better their mental health.

“It’s a very positive thing that we’re doing and it makes it a lot easier through the days in knowing we’re touching people’s lives,” Annie said.

To reserve a session and learn more, visit the Chill Encounters website.

If you or someone you know is showing signs of mental distress, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.