A Seattle dad felt helpless this past spring after he learned about a series of teen suicides in his area.
Four teens died by suicide within the span of only a few days in April, according to KUOW-FM.
While authorities were unable to find any evidence that the teens’ deaths were related, Colby Wallace couldn’t stop thinking about them and his own daughters.
“You feel helpless,” the father of two told “Good Morning America.”
“I have girls who are young, but they’re going to be teenagers soon and it’s really, really scary.”
As he was discussing his concerns over the trend of teen suicides in the neighborhood with a friend, he learned about an Oregon-based nonprofit organization called Don’t Give Up.
Don’t Give Up was started by a concerned mother, Amy Wolff, who decided to actively fight against rising teen suicide rates in her area through encouraging yard signs and wristbands.
Moved to make an impact in his own community, Wallace purchased 15 signs and 200 branded wristbands with encouraging messages such as “You are enough” and “Don’t give up” to place around his city.
On Mother’s Day, Wallace and his family walked around their neighborhood placing the signs in public spaces, especially around his daughters’ elementary school.
“We reached out to the school counselor and principal to let them know and get their blessing, and we put a little blurb in the school news bulletin about what the signs are,” he said.
“I just wanted to put a positive message out there.”
His simple yet compassionate plan quickly made an impact.
“A woman told me she was in tears after dropping off her daughter at school because the sign made her feel heard,” he told Yahoo Lifestyle a couple of weeks after the signs were posted.
“I’ve learned that you never know who is struggling. Some people seem like they have it together but need to hear this.”
Since then Wallace has organized fundraising campaigns to fund even more signs to be put up in neighboring communities.
Wallace and Wolff’s observation of rising rates of teen suicides isn’t just limited to their communities.
A study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention which was released in October determined suicide rates among children 10 to 14 years old tripled from 2007 to 2017.
Wallace told “Good Morning America” he hopes the signs will not only impact those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts, but also those who may be struggling to be kind to others.
“Its roots come from suicide but its message is across so many different things,” he said.
“If the signs can turn someone’s mindset around so that maybe they act more kind throughout the world, it could create some healing to make the world a little better place.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.
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