ChooseLife.org hopes to be the spark that starts a revolution to END TEEN SUICIDE.
To guide our work, we have built five equally important pillars to support improvements in the mental health of our children.
We are seeking to educate parents so that they understand that depression is a disease and not something a child can simply shake off.
Instead of thinking of depression as a rare mental disorder, we want parents to see it like the flu. Anyone can get it and at any time. Not only can anyone get it but it can have the same tragic results for our kids if left untreated.
Parents must be educated on the signs and symptoms of depression in their children. We need to give parents the right questions to ask and the best conversation starters to be able to talk with their kids while also removing the stigma of depression in families.
The Schools & Gov’t
We hope to partner with government agencies and our school districts to help them understand the severity of this epidemic and make ending teen suicide their number one priority.
We seek to inspire schools from elementary to college to take a leading role in educating parents and students about depression and suicide. National curriculums on depression must be created and taught in every school.
We want other state governments to model legislation similar to that of the California Assembly bill (No. 2639) to bring required suicide prevention curriculum to our school districts.
We must erase the stigma in the minds of our youth by educating our kids so they understand mental illness is just like any other illness; it is nothing to be ashamed of and needs to be treated or it can lead to further declining health and even death.
We want teens to understand that it is normal to be sad; it’s not normal to always be sad or have thoughts of harming yourself. These are symptoms of illness, just as sneezing and coughing can be a symptom of the flu.
Children need to learn how to be comfortable talking about how they truly feel with friends, teachers, parents, and medical professionals. We want the stigma to be completely erased in the minds of our kids.
The Medical Community
New protocols for doctors across the USA must be created and followed regarding the evaluation of a child’s mental health. We need to better align pediatricians with mental professionals so there are clear referral sources for doctors to send their patients to. Referrals for mental health should be as simple as a referral for a tonsillectomy.
We must upgrade the training and education our mental health professionals receive for dealing with depression and teens. The best practices from around the world should become common practice. There are far too many therapists whose tool kits are not up to date.
We need to re-evaluate the harm that giving teenagers access to social media has on their developing brains. Research on social media and developing brains should be brought front and center.
We will talk to the world’s top experts around adolescent psychology and social media, asking if kids are spending too much time staring at small screens and if constantly viewing an alternate life on Facebook, Instagram, etc. can cause mental illness. The central question is what age should kids be allowed to have any social media account? We don’t let them drive until they are 16 or drink until 21. Is 13 the correct age for a Facebook account?