Hello friends, it has been about a month since our last update but that doesn’t mean the team has not been busy. Jackstrong continues to receive widespread media coverage on all the Denver television stations and in the Denver Post, because of the great work the team is doing in collaboration with many others to address this teen suicide epidemic. We would like to remind folks how serious this problem is, the numbers in a nutshell:
• Nearly 1 of every 5 of high school students report being bullied at school
• In Colorado, suicide is the leading cause of death among children and adolescents ages 10-24
• Teen suicide has risen over 400% the past several years.
• 7% of Colorado high school students have attempted suicide
• 13% of Colorado high school students have a plan to die by suicide
• 17% of Colorado high school students have seriously considered suicide
• Colorado ranks 10th in the nation for suicide deaths across all age groups
These statistics are terrifying, there are moments in time when we must be
moved to action, NOW is the time we stand up and say it is OK to not be OK! It is time to destigmatize mental health and treat it like any other disease. Suicide should not be an option – Treatment should be!!
Several updates since we last spoke:
– A summer lacrosse team, Jackstrong, AKA Angel Jack, is playing in the Denver Lacrosse High School summer league. I am coaching a group of kids that have come out in support of Jack and his love of lacrosse, I have to share that my dad and I were so happy to see the number of kids that have come out to play on the team. It was so large we had to split some off to another team. To date we have played two games resulting in commanding victories, it had been a blast as the guys have had the opportunity to play out of their normal positions, best part, we are in first place. If you want to play, please contact me as soon as possible, we have three games left and the play-offs, plus a pretty good pizza party at the end of the season.
– Sunday May 19th at Vineyard Vines Clothing organized a fundraiser for JackStrong with the customers able to choose to donate either 10% or 20% of their purchase to Jackstrong. Free Jackstrong anti-cyber bullying t-shirts were given out to the first 50 customers. THANK YOU, VINEYARD VINES!
-We have begun filming a series of teen to teen suicide prevention Public Service Announcements that will be filmed over the summer and we will launch a Social Media Campaign this September on the steps of the State Capital (thank you Janicek Media). As we determine the date, we will get you that information so you can join in the announcement.
– June 22nd my dad, Rick, joined Vance Johnson (former Denver Bronco), as special guests of Mental Health Colorado Annual Unmasked event to share their stories with a crowd of over 200 quests. Thank you, Mental Health Colorado, Angela and John Schmidt, for hosting the event in your beautiful home.
– On a not so positive note, the Greenwood Village Police Department conducted an inquiry into the allegations of bullying that may have contributed to Jack dying by suicide, they found no criminal culpability. We respect the inquiry by the Police Department, but we question the thoroughness of the investigation and if the current anti-bullying statues go far enough in holding persons accountable?
– The Cherry Creek School District has still not conducted their investigation, as promised to our family in March of this year, we await the beginning and results of their investigation.
Here are more events on the horizon:
– My dad has been working with several outstanding volunteers in collaboration with mental health agencies, therapist, lawyers, lawmakers and others to begin developing a four-point strategy to help address this issue. To date they have identified four areas of focus, they have held two separate focus groups both with teens and adults to get their input, those areas include the following:
o Teen to Teen Mental Health Summit
o Teen Mental Health Affiliation Program
o In-School Educational Teen Suicide Prevention Programming
o Mobile Mental Health Van
– We have several organizations and volunteers who have said they want to help, how about you? Please let us know if you would like to join this campaign, as we are meeting in mid-July to begin drafting what this will look like in a bit more detail with timelines over the next 12 – 24 months.
– Also, my dad is working with several organizations, lawmakers, lawyers and others to begin reviewing legislation so that we can determine how the system failed Jack and others like him, so that next January we can propose “Jack’s Law”, for example it may mean propose changing the current law on bullying and accountability?
– We are also working on a potential collaboration with the HOPE SQUAD, recently featured on NBC national news, to come out to Denver on September 30th to meet with interested stakeholders, hope you can join us.
Remember, you don’t have to live in Colorado to be involved. Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank You!
Help spread the word!