How One Teen Began the Suicide Prevention Revolution at His School
My name is Justis Daniels and I’m your typical guitar-playing, chai-loving, food-devouring 17 year old boy. I’m also a suicide prevention activist. Now, you might be thinking, “How does a 17-year-old, guitar-playing, chai-loving, food enthusiast boy become a suicide prevention activist?” It’s a question I even ask myself. I guess the simplest answer to that question is this: I became a suicide prevention activist to save the lives of my friends and yours.
The Big Idea
In the summer of 2016, my small town of Taos, New Mexico was hit with a cluster of teen suicides that rocked our way of life. What was left in its wake was a community of teens and adults, struggling and grieving as they desperately tried to get in front of the issue and prevent further loss of life. I knew I wanted to make a difference, but I didn’t just want to help the teens in my community: I wanted to help teens everywhere. But I had no idea how to do that. So I did what any teen would do: I went to my mother. (Okay maybe it’s not what everyone would do, but it’s what I did). It started over a cup of chai (as most amazing things in life do). Little did I know, the idea that formed would not only inspire me to take action against teen suicide, but empower my whole community of teens against it as well.
The resulting campaign was called See Something Say Something, and it was a 100% teen-led suicide prevention initiative. It’s #1 goal? Stop teen suicide here in Taos, and stop teen suicide around the country. It had 3 main goals: social advocacy & empowerment, education, and technology.
Social Advocacy & Empowerment
All too often, society stigmatizes the issues of mental health and suicide. We hoped to encourage teens to “re-think” the issues, and get to a point where they felt safe and comfortable talking about them.
Educating young people about mental health was crucial. As students we’re taught everything from calculus to physics to English. But we’re rarely taught about mental health. We wanted to change that. We sponsored Mental Health First Aid certification training for teens, giving them the knowledge and know-how to begin to take action where it’s needed.
We leveraged technology to provide teens with the tools and resources they needed to take action. Technology is an integral part of our lives, so we came up with the idea for the “See Something Say Something” teen suicide prevention app. We entered the app concept into the Verizon Innovative App Challenge, and it was declared as one of the “Best in Nation” app concepts out of over 1800 others. The app connects people to real-time crisis intervention and support provided by Crisis Text Line. It also connects them young people in order to foster social and community engagement and empower them against suicide. The app is called “SEESAY Teen Suicide Prevention,” and can be found in both the Google Play and Apple App stores.
Bottom Line: Help is a Text Away
That’s how I became a suicide prevention activist. It’s important to know that we, as individuals, can make a difference. Step one is realizing that together we can change the reality of suicide. I’m committed to saving lives, and Crisis Text Line is too. Let’s face it; we’re teens. We don’t pick up phones to call anymore. We’re texters! The ability to be able to connect, 24/7, to trained Crisis Counselors via text is amazing. The SEESAY Teen Suicide Prevention app provides teens with what they need to get help how, when, and where they need it, and I am thankful for the role Crisis Text Line plays in that. In a day and time where people (especially teens) face so many challenges, Crisis Text Line has always got your back. They’re just a text away!
Download the SEESAY Teen Suicide Prevention app for IOS devices here.
Download the SEESAY Teen Suicide Prevention app for android devices here.
And check out See Something Say Something and the work we’re doing here.