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Memorial garden installed for Parma police officer who died by suicide

Family, friends, coworkers and volunteers create inviting space to reflect
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Posted at 4:09 PM, Jun 14, 2024

PARMA, Ohio — A fitting tribute for a beloved Parma police officer who died by suicide in April.

Kandice Straub’s family, coworkers and friends, along with volunteers, installed a memorial garden at the Parma Rec Center off Ridge Road.

Kandice’s mother, Karla, who is now devoted to raising awareness about mental health and suicide, said it will be a special place for people to reflect.

From all accounts, Kandice had a core group of women to lean on.

On Friday, they leaned on each other to build something special for Kandice.

“She would love this for sure. She would be out here with her little muscle shirt on trying to flex her little guns,” Dispatcher Tracie Hooley said.

Karla said her daughter loved gardening.

Her family, colleagues and friends thought nothing would be more fitting than installing a garden in her memory.

"It started with two sunflower packs I kept staring at and thought instead of planting them for just us to enjoy let’s plant them for all of us to enjoy,” Dispatcher Dawn Connor said.

Flowers and trees of all sorts were ready for planting.

Kandice’s yellow Crocs brightened the mood on what was a bittersweet day.

“Anytime she cut the grass, she did gardening, she did weeding; that’s what she wore,” Karla said.

Kandice was just 28 years old when she died on April 16.

Her mother recently shared with News 5 Investigators her daughter’s suicide came out of nowhere.

Kandice Straub's mother opens up about her daughter's death by suicide:

Mother of Parma officer shares daughter's story for mental health awareness

She said Kandice was happy and driven.

Kandice joined the Parma Police force in 2019 and, just this year, became the first woman on the SWAT team.

“I talked to her this morning before I came asking her for that strength to help me get through the day. But I think she’s here, I do,” Karla said.

Karla did some heavy lifting with a heavy heart.

“It’s a little overwhelming that there is so much support and there’s so much love because there are still good people in the world,” Karla said.

Volunteers from Home Depot placed stones, raked dirt and painted rocks to help create an inviting space.

Karla wants nothing more than to bring comfort to those struggling.

“I’m hoping this will be someplace that when they need to regroup they need that minute to get their head on straight, they can come here and do that because I know wherever Kandice is that’s what she would want,” Karla said.

The garden reveals a lot about who Kandice is and keeps her memory close to her heart.

“I hope it helps some other people so it never happens again, honestly,” Dawn said.

The garden is outside the Parma Rec Center and residents can also stop by and take a moment to sit and reflect.

If you or someone you know is struggling, you can call or text the suicide and crisis lifeline at 988.

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