Aevidum: Carter Salomon starts new club to spread awareness of suicide prevention and honor brother


Devon Helmer, Managing Editor

This previously ran in our October 2022 print issue. 

“All of a sudden it started to rain,” Nancy Salomon said. “I felt like it was him crying with us because he couldn’t be here.” 

On Oct. 2, Nancy Salomon and her family found themselves surrounded by the support of friends providing hope and light amid dreary skies and muddy paths of the Lehigh Valley Parkway. The family was there for the American Foundation for Suicide’s “Out of the Darkness Walk” event – they walked in unity as Craig’s Crew, a team created in memory of their son. 

Craig Salomon, class of 2025, was a non-stop, competitive young man who found himself involved in “everything.” Craig was a Scout, a drummer, a baseball catcher, a member of the National Junior Honor Society, and an award-winning wrestler. By his side in these pursuits: his twin brother, Carter Salomon. 

Craig’s family described him as an “old soul” and a natural leader; he spent his free time learning about history and science. If his parents did not know where he was at a given moment, his mom could usually find him up in a tree in their back- yard. 

“He was the kid that when the teachers looked at the roster, they smiled,” Nancy said. “They knew ‘Oh, he’s a good kid.’” 

Nancy and Todd Salomon, parents of Craig, Carter, and their oldest daughter, Mandie (class of 2021), were heavily involved in the kids’ lives; specifically, their respective activities. 

“We were a family that eats dinner together every night,” Todd said. 

“[Todd] coached, he was [Carter and Craig’s] Cub Scout leader, [we] volunteered at every activity, PTA, PTO,” Nancy said. “We were involved with everything.” 

Craig’s whole world was constantly in motion; it came to a halt in 2020 amid shutdowns as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Though he was not entirely isolated, seeing and spending time with close friends, access to many activities he once enjoyed that required group assembly were still cut off due to virus concerns. 

Craig took his own life in December 2020 at the age of 13. 

“We want people to be aware that there’s no face of suicide,” Todd said. “It can happen to any family.” 

Warning signs of suicide can appear in varying forms. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention arranges them into three categories: health, environmental, and historical. Examples of such can include things like mental health disorders, serious physical health conditions, stressful life events, prolonged stress, childhood trauma, and a family history of suicide. Despite a plethora of different ways someone can show signs they are struggling, warning signs are not always a part of the equation: some people demonstrate none. 

“You sit there and you look at these signs: it didn’t fit our son,” Nancy said. “If this could happen to us, it could happen to somebody else.” 

In the spring of this year, Carter Salomon made progress for a cause close to his heart: he started EHS’s Aevidum Club, part of a nationwide movement to raise suicide prevention awareness. His goal is to create a sense of unity among community members in hopes to prevent suicide and raise awareness for prevention. 

“I just felt motivated,” Carter said. “I didn’t want other families to go through what we went through, what we’re going through right now.” 

Though starting the club was mostly a responsibility that rested upon Carter’s shoulders, the decision to move forward with it was also a family matter. Sitting side-by-side on the couch in their family room, Nancy shared this revelation. 

“We had to make sure that our family was in the right place, grieving-wise. For all four of us to be able to say this is what we believe happened – everybody has their own journey with grief,” Nancy said. “We all had to be close to each other before we could make that step to share. So as the club seemed to be picked up, I realized that it’s time.” 

The idea to start the club originally came to Carter in April, and he jumped into action in May. He faced obstacles in his path to getting a chapter of Aevidum at Emmaus. 

“I had to email a ton of teachers to try and get my advisors,” Carter said. “Nobody wanted to do it. Everyone was saying they don’t know how to do it, or [that] they’re not trained in it.” 

Eventually, Amy Williams, Communities in Schools coordinator, was named club advisor. Williams had attended an Aevidum workshop hosted at Nazareth Area High School last fall and was inspired by the purpose: breaking the stigma of mental health and suicide prevention. 

“I have had a couple of people in my life die by suicide. I have worked in the mental health field my entire career, I know how important [prevention awareness] is,” Williams said. “I think it’s important for the community to be aware because people do suffer, and we need to be aware of that. We need to create environments where people feel like they’re able to talk about it instead of feeling like they have to do things on their own.” 

In addition to finding a properly-trained advisor to lead the club and its members, Carter also found challenges in finding a sponsor to financially support Aevidum. After approaching multiple businesses and asking for their help, he finally found a sponsor: AI Orthodontics. 

Aevidum is a program created by Cocalico High School in Lancaster County. Originally under the name “A Helping Hand,” the club was an outlet where students, teachers, and administrators could come together to encourage an open dialogue about mental health and suicide prevention after a Cocalico student took their own life in 2003. 

Aevidum’s website states, “Aevidum empowers youth to shatter the silence surrounding depression, suicide, and other issues facing teens.” 

The word, Aevidum, created by students and originating from Latin roots, means, “I’ve got your back,” encouraging club members to be there for one another and openly share their struggles with the goal of spreading awareness and preventing suicide. The movement has spread: Aevidum finds itself in elementary, middle, and high schools as well as colleges and universities across the country. 

Carter Salomon’s mission for the club lies in recruiting as many members as possible to join, expanding the popularity of the club to reach all students: especially athletes. A wrestler and baseball player himself, Carter believes mental health is something that athletes struggle with the most. This shaped his philosophy for starting the club and largely influenced his decision to hold club meetings during the school day as opposed to after school, in an effort to best accommodate after-school sports and activities. 

Carter knows that the more members he recruits to join the Aevidum Club, the more they bring awareness to the Emmaus community. He plans to use his social connections through sports, like his involvement on the Emmaus wrestling team, and social media promotion to achieve his current goal of getting more than 100 people to join the club. They currently have 33 members. 

Members of the Emmaus’ Aevidum Club were among community members who joined “Craig’s Crew,” one of 120 teams that registered to participate in the “Out of the Darkness Walk” in the Lehigh Valley. 

The family originally registered for the walk just one month before the race, with low expectations for what they could contribute to the event. Specifically, their goal was to raise $150 between the three of them. 

“The morning of [the walk] I was nervous – I didn’t know how it would be, I didn’t know how overwhelming it would be,” Carter said. “[As] more and more friends started showing up, [I] kind of just knew that I was going to be okay. I just felt kind of touched that they were all there supporting us.”

 The weather was inclement but this did not stop friends, families, and community members impacted by suicide from showing up to display their support for the cause. 

“It was very bittersweet. We had every chapter in the boys’ life represented that day. So to see it all come together was overwhelming and amazing,” Nancy said. “And yes, sad because everybody was there with him. So that was hard to see them all there for him – but he wasn’t there.” 

Craig’s Crew placed first out of all the teams that participated in the event. The family beat their former fundraising goal, coming in at $10,500 and counting, with donations still compiling in support of the cause. According to the AFSP, funding for a school program is $5,000; the family was able to raise enough funds for two programs to be implemented. In addition to their individual team surpassing their fundraising goals, the event as a whole also exceeded its target: originally aiming for $90,000, the event raised over $100k for the cause. 

Over the past two years, the Salomon family has been consistently amazed by one thing: the impact the community has had on their lives. As a family who relocated to the area, they were overwhelmed by the support they received in spite of the fact their family was not local. 

“The community has really come together for us, it has been so meaningful to us. It shows you’re never really alone,” Nancy said. “[It is said] that one suicide affects 100 different people: I really can tell you, my one 13-year-old boy touched hundreds of people.” 

Moving forward, the Salomon family hopes that mental health struggles are something that is talked about more and more, destigmatizing it. They hope that open dialogue among future generations will help individuals to better understand and label their feelings – giving them better jurisdiction surrounding when to get help. 

“We’re strong proponents of education. I don’t expect any of us to change the world. If we could just get through [to] one kid,” Nancy said. “None of us want to ever attend another child’s funeral – because you have no idea how hard that is.” 

After Craig’s passing in December 2020, the family created the Craig James Salomon Memorial Scholarship which they launched the following spring at their daughter, Mandie Salomon’s, high school graduation. Recipients of the scholarship are college- or trade school-bound and must have played a sport, whether it be for the high school or outside of school, in addition to being involved in the arts and community service. Scholarship applicants respond to a prompt for consideration: “How do you plan to make a positive impact in the world?” 

Since its debut at the 2021 graduation, the family has been able to continue awarding the scholarship to EHS graduates: this past spring for the class of 2022, they were able to raise enough funds to award the scholarship to three recipients. 

“We have some other thoughts that we’re still trying to piece together. The hard part is honoring him while we continue to take our steps [in grief] because this is still very new,” Nancy said. “We still have a lot of ‘firsts’ that we’re still experiencing: milestones that he should be here for. Perhaps we’re taking slower steps, but, we take steps.” 

Long-term, the family would like to see the club become a rooted part of East Penn schools, making a positive impact on the culture of the district. They would also like to see Aevidum make its way to Eyer Middle School, where the twins were both students. Most importantly, the Salomon family wants the legacy of their son to carry on as they navigate life without him. 

“Most people just have been remembering how he died and everything, but that’s not really how we want him to be remembered,” Carter said. “We want to remember him as what an awesome person he was, how kind he was to everybody, how funny he was.”