The recent death of comedian/actor Robin Williams has brought renewed attention to the issues of suicide and depression. Regardless of age, many struggle and may need help from time to time. An upcoming conference put on by the Mentoring Youth Network (MYN) hopes to provide students, dealing with the issues, alternatives, hope and answers.
Organizers of the “I’mPossible” Suicide Awareness Conference say they want to proactively inspire change in Detroit’s youth and give them options. They are stressing that although the coming of age process can seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to lead to debilitating hopelessness or a tragic end.
“So many kids are beat down by life issues,” says MYN leaders and event organizer Tony Weston. “With this event, we want to build a support network for teens and encourage them to communicate and get the help they need. We want them to leave the conference with tools and a tangible support plan.”
Information from the U.S. Surgeon General’s office suggests, “Suicide is our most preventable form of death.” While the issue touches all age groups, more teenagers die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, flu and chronic lung disease combined. (National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action). That bit of sobering information gives us an idea of how pervasive the challenge is, particularly for young people.
This is the second time the conference has been put on by MYN.
“We did the first conference in 2012,” says Weston. “While we do allot of work with students to help them succeed, this issue hit me personally. A couple friends I knew committed suicide. After that, I wanted to help create a support system and branch it out to others that might be hurting.”
The scheduled 30-minute workshops include Conflict Resolution and Cyber-Bullying; Domestic Violence; The Social Ills of Social Media, and How to Handle Bullies and Cyber-Bullies and Peer Pressure.
The event, happening on Saturday, September 27, 2014, will feature candid discussions, workshops, presentations by experts and those that have faced the issue themselves. Former news anchor Frank Turner is the keynote, saying he got involved to give back and offer hope to students.
“I agreed to do this because I want to save lives,” he says. Turner is open about his own challenges with drugs and alcohol and thoughts of giving up. “I understand how depression can affect your thinking and without hope, people look for ways to ease what they are feeling. For me, I found hope in my relationship with God. I want to talk to these young people about not giving up.”
The free conference will take place from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM at Redford Church of Christ, located in Detroit at 16776 Lahser Road.
Other speakers include:
- Rasheda Kamaria Williams of Empowered Flower Girl on social media
- Lindsey Huddleston of The Huddleston Foundation on cyber-bullying;
- Kalyn Risker, Sisters Acquiring Financial Empowerment (SAFE), will address domestic violence
- Terrence Wilson will provide tools on conflict resolution
- Author DeMetria Hayes will be the mistress of ceremonies for the event
Weston is encouraging people of all ages to come out, but also wants to stress the importance of getting help immediately if you or someone you know is depressed or considering harming themselves.
To get help, 24-hours a day, seven days a week, call (313) 224-7000 or (800) 241-4949.
For more information on the conference, visit the MYN Facebook page or call Tony Weston directly at (313) 408-9506.