By Alan Shope
INDEPENDENCE, Missouri (KMBC) — A special building dedication took place in Independence, Missouri, on Wednesday night. A group gathered to rename a mental health services building in the name of a 14-year-old boy.
The boy, Pierson Phillips, lost his life in January of 2019. He took his own life after a long fight with mental illness.
A childhood friend of Phillips, Peter Moriarty, was among those who came together for the building rededication.
“He was my best friend for years,” Moriarty said.
A picture of Phillips will now hang next to a dedication plaque inside the building.
Phillips’s mother, Hilaire Phillips, says her son was an outspoken advocate for mental illness since a young age.
“He fought so hard to end the stigma and shame surrounding mental illness,” Phillips said.
Pierson Phillips had been speaking publicly speaking about his disease since he was 10. Although he lost his battle, his family says his mission of awareness will continue through them.
“I feel like this is just an extension of what he was doing when he was here,” Hillarie Phillips said.
With the picture and plaque Pierson Phillips becomes a permanent fixture in the Comprehensive Mental Health Services complex in Independence.
“One in four people are dealing with a mental health issue,” Comprehensive Mental Health Services President and CEO Julie Pratt said.
Friends say Phillips would be happy knowing that his name will forever be involved in helping those who battle with mental illness. Phillip’s father, Travis Phillips, says this building and its mission is something he would be very proud of.
“He wanted to change the world. He wanted to change how mental health was looked at,” Travis Phillips said.
Travis Phillips also says he’s glad the building is somewhere people who are struggling with mental illness can go to and feel heard. Moriarty says he’s happy that Phillip’s legacy will continue.
September is national suicide prevention month.
The family says it’s a perfect reminder to listen to friends and family.
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