A Seattle-based dad is taking serious matters into his own hands — and doing what he can to help.
Concerned that suicide is now the second leading cause of death in the state of Washington for people 10 to 24 years old, according to the Washington State Department of Health — and the third leading cause of death for this age group nationally, according to the CDC — dad Colby Wallace has been putting up signs carrying positive messages of support around his daughters’ elementary school in Seattle.
The signs say “don’t give up,” “you matter,” and “you are not alone.”
A nonprofit group called Don’t Give Up started this sign movement in Oregon two years ago — and its website says the movement has spread worldwide.
A new study shows suicide rates in girls are rising, especially for those 10 to 14 years old. Researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in in Columbus, Ohio, analyzed suicide rates of American kids and teens ages 10 to 19 between 1975 and 2016 using the Online Data for Epidemiologic Research database run by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as CNN reported.
In that period of time, there were more than 85,000 suicides in kids and teens, with 80 percent in boys and 20 percent in girls. The rates of suicide peaked in 1993 and had been on the decline until 2007 — when they again started to climb, according to the findings, published recently in JAMA.
Wallace said his goal of posting signs of encouragement and support is to foster discussions and conversation about mental health issues; he’s heard stories about those who have taken their own lives and is trying to prevent such a thing from happening again.
“As a parent, you feel really helpless when you hear these stories, that this is happening,” he said, as WPBF noted. “This is happening a lot, but nobody wants to talk about it.”
“You don’t know what people are going through.”
Another sign says, “Your mistakes do not define you.”
“Don’t give up. Everybody is struggling,” this dad also said. “You don’t know what people are going through.”
Some neighbors who feel the same way as this action-focused father are now posting the signs in the front yards of their homes as well — though some signs have apparently been vandalized.
The NIH shares this vital message: “Suicidal thoughts or actions (even in very young children) are a sign of extreme distress and should not be ignored. If you or someone you know needs immediate help, contact the National Suicide prevention line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Crisis Text Line: Text ‘home’ to 741741.”