Funeral home billboards send message to WI teens

Posted at 6:59 PM, Mar 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-10 21:38:34-05

FOND DU LAC, Wis. (AP) -- A local funeral home is getting attention in the Fond du Lac area for a billboard campaign designed to send a message to teenagers.

Zacherl Funeral Home's billboards are meant to address drug overdose deaths, suicides and traffic fatalities involving young people, USA Today Network-Wisconsin reported.

"Basically I am just tired of burying these young people," said Pete Zacherl of Zacherl Funeral Home.

Three billboards have been placed in Fond du Lac and a fourth is located along Highway 41. One of them shows a hearse with a message about heroin, while another shows a casket adorned with red roses with a message to prom-goers.

"We wanted the community to know that we care," said Zacherl funeral director Dawn Nelson. "These young people are the children of friends and family, and we know their grandparents and great-grandparents."

Funeral directors nationwide are speaking up about the growing numbers of "unnatural deaths," according to Steven R. Kemp, a member of the board of directors at the National Funeral Directors Association.

"It's frightening and it's sad and we have to deal with the families and classmates and friends of the deceased, and it's happening far too often," said Kemp, whose practice is in Detroit. "Many of us are reaching out with these types of community service announcements."

Nelson showed the ads to her 16-year-old daughter to see what she thought about them.

"She said, `Woah, Mom. It really stops you and makes you think,"' Nelson said.

The billboard will remain up through the end of March.

"We wanted to get people talking about the senseless deaths of young people, and people are talking," Nelson said.