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Dairy Queen ambassador's first act: Let's talk about teen suicide

By Rex Huppke, Tribune Content Agency on

I hope so too. But in the meantime, perhaps a Dairy Queen ambassador can help.

Let's start with awareness. I spoke with Jonny Boucher, founder of Hope for the Day, a Chicago-based suicide prevention group.

He said the biggest key is to get people talking about youth suicide, to break down the barriers we have when it comes to mental health issues.

"People aren't talking about it enough," he said. "Technology is driving the way people communicate, and it's creating this fear of looking someone in the eyes and having a conversation."

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15 and 34. There are an average of 121 Americans committing suicide each day.

"It's a very hard conversation for a lot of people to wrap their heads around," Boucher said. "Most often we only talk about it after a tragedy has occurred."

So let's start there. Talk to your kids about suicide. Encourage the schools your children attend to bring in organizations like Hope for the Day or others to get these conversations started. Make people feel comfortable about acknowledging that they're having problems and need help.

 

Jonathan's mother, Patti Shore Kaden, is six years removed from her son's death, and she still talks about it to anyone who will listen: "We want to keep Jonathan going. We just want to keep talking and talking about this. That's how you help."

Another way to help is to do what Moloney has been doing up until this year: raise money for suicide-prevention organizations. Donate. Support them. Volunteer.

Let's start helping. Let's start taking this issue seriously.

For Jonathan. For the abundantly kind Ms. Moloney, who is fighting a battle of her own. And for the young people out there who need help -- and need adults unafraid to bring tough topics out in the open.

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(Rex Huppke is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune and a noted hypocrisy enthusiast. You can email him at rhuppke@tribune.com or follow him on Twitter at @RexHuppke.)

 

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