Fifth graders from Sandpoint, ID are taking a stand against teen suicide; and in doing so, will be attending the Be The Change Conference beginning Saturday in Madrid, Spain. As the Ambassador team representing the United States, these teens are really special; not only because they elected to focus on the issues around middle school teen suicide following six teenage suicides in their hometown, but more importantly, for having the courage to do something about it. You see, these fifth graders understand that the problem is rampant and while we don’t want to admit how large it is, the fact remains that the statistics around teen suicide are staggering. And if their town’s loss wasn’t big enough, these teens understand that for every successful teen suicide, there are 25 additional attempted suicides among their peers. This is not only shocking, but it’s also a problem nobody can afford to ignore.
Design for Change USA, is a nonprofit organization is working, not only to turn these statistics around, but also to change lives and transform middle school youth by addressing the issues faced by teens head on. Recently, they partnered with Power2Change, CSI Enterprises’ charitable support foundation to do just this.
It is hard to imagine that teen suicide in girls has nearly doubled since 2007, reaching its highest rate since the CDC began tracking it in 1975. For boys, it is up approximately 30% and continuing to climb. It is far worse than the movies and the internet make it out to be and taking action now is imperative. The solution begins with fifth graders, like those from Sandpoint, conferences like Be The Change, and everyone around us.
“This conference is part of the global Design for Change movement that seeks to empower kids with the “I Can” confidence to be the change they want to see in the world,” said Sanjli Gidwaney, Director of Design for Change USA.
While this Design for Change Ambassador team has implemented ideas to prevent other teen suicides in their community, the lessons and skills gained through the overall Design for Change methodology are intended to help countless other young adults build the empathy, grit, perseverance, and the confidence to resist suicidal thoughts, while creating positive changes in their lives and their communities. This can only be done when we take an active role in their lives and avail ourselves to their needs; in other words, in other words, teen suicide is everyone’s problem.
“You don’t know what is going on in a person’s life. They might be depressed for something you have no idea about. You might think it’s one thing, but it’s something totally different. That’s kind of what we learned during the empathy stage,” said Gage, a 12-year-old participating in the program.
This incredibly special program, which is intended to give youth the tools and experiences needed to identify and solve a broad range of issues that are important to them, begins with young people observing and listing the issues that bother them in their community. Next, they interact with others to identify points of intervention and possible solutions. They develop and implement a plan of action, keeping in mind the available resources, budget, time, and skills. And finally, they share their story of change, while inspiring others to get involved and/or start their own projects.
The decision for the Power2Change Foundation to partner with Design For Change USA was an easy one. “The global movement that Design for Change leads, is in complete alignment with our mission statement at P2C, and we are proud to be able to support them in their efforts to empower young adults,” said Amy Schindler, Director of Operations for the Power2Change Foundation. In the end, it all comes down to the old adage about an ounce of prevention…and in this case, that ounce of prevention is a lifesaving one.