Hello friends, it has been two months 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. Since our last update, sadly, I must share that we lost two more Cherry Creek School District kids that had just graduated this past spring. We must continue to focus on both reducing the stigma around mental health and on the epidemic of teen suicides. 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:
– The Jackstrong summer lacrosse team, had an incredible season, going 7 – 0 in the Denver Lacrosse High School summer league. We made it to the semi-finals but lost to a team we had beat earlier in the season. Throughout the summer kids from across the metro area came out to play for Jackstrong, I had the most memorable experience coaching these guys, Jack was with us all the way, I am sure he was animated when we lost. But this wasn’t about lacrosse, it was about Jack and carrying the message of Jackstrong. It was a bunch of guys playing to defeat the stigma around teen mental health and to stop bullying in our schools. Jack was a compassionate caring person, always looking out for the other person before himself, the world is a better place to have had my brother Jack in it, I miss and love you Jack. Unfortunately, I couldn’t coach our last game as my parents and I were back in Bozeman getting unpacked to start school. A BIG thank you to Coach Rosendahl for stepping up to help coach the boys the last game, for those that don’t Coach Rosendahl, he was Jack’s coach for several years, both in field and box lacrosse. Before we headed back to Bozeman we hosted the guys to pizza party, it was a great time, but those guys sure can eat a lot. Guys, thanks for a GREAT season, keep your focus on school and life, remember if you need to talk with somebody I am always available, but please talk with your parents or another trusted adult. There is nothing in life you can’t help for and work through, I will miss you guys, but let’s do it again next summer. Jackstrong! (Please see the embedded news story on our final game, thank you Channel 4 & Dominick Garcia)
– In July, my dad and I rode in the Courage Classic Bike Ride for the Psyched to Climb team, helping raise over $92,000 for the Pediatric Mental Health Institute and exceeding our $50,000 goal. It was a beautiful bike ride throughout the Rocky Mountains over a two-day period, but the highlight was doing the ride with my dad. My mom, Auntie Edie & Uncle Kevin came to spend the weekend and support us.
– The teen to teen suicide prevention Public Service Announcements filming is now complete with over 40 teens filmed this summer, Janicek Media is editing now, we still hope to launch a Social Media Campaign this September. Stayed tuned, it was a once in a lifetime experience to be involved in this special project by teens for teens!
– The tree, bench and plaque are all now in place at Village Greens Park. For those that don’t know, GV Park is where Jack played little league football and lacrosse. When Jack was in the 4th grade my dad picked Jack up for two months (April & May) to go play in the park during his lunch period, sadly my dad had to do that because Jack was getting relentlessly bullied or blamed at school. It turned out to be a wonderful experience for both Jack & my dad.
– Regarding the Greenwood Village Police Department inquiry into the allegations of bullying that may have contributed to Jack dying by suicide, they may not have found no criminal culpability, but we intend on working with law makers to find out where the system failed Jack and propose “Jack’s Law” next legislative session.
– We wish we could update on Cherry Creek School District efforts to address teen suicide and their investigation, as promised to our family in March of this year, but we have not heard a word from the District.
As I head back to school I contemplate what is next for me, my focus is; remember my brother, create positive change in this world and leave a legacy that Jack would be proud of. Many of you may know that I have always been and continue to be interested in neuroscience. When Jack was in the hospital I spent every second with him; I questioned going back to school and what I was studying and what I should do next. My dad said, “Your brother was extremely proud of you and what you were doing, don’t give up your dream, fulfill that dream for both you and for Jack.” I spent my second summer working in the Repine Lab at the Anschutz Medical Center doing research, an experience which renewed my determination to work in neurology, so that someday we WILL discover treatments for mental health that will help people live fulfilling lives with no stigma attached to their illness.
Finally, my dad has returned to work at the City of Denver in a very different capacity. Some of you may know that my dad was the Housing Director at the City of Denver before this tragedy. He has returned to the city to work exclusively on suicide prevention in the Behavioral Health Division. Early in my dad’s career he investigated child abuse, started a juvenile diversion program & worked for the Menninger Foundation. It seems he has come full circle in his career, but this time it’s for Jack.
Remember, you don’t have to live in Colorado to be involved. Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank You! Help spread the word!
Find us on Instagram @JackStrong17