In episode 47 of The BOOM Podcast, Amazon bestselling author and mental health speaker Jeff Yalden spoke from the heart about his struggles with mental illness as well as his views on the state of mental health in the United States. The one key fact Yalden wants those struggling with mental health issues to understand is this: Living with mental illness does not mean that you are crazy. “I think what makes you crazy is when you don’t recognize, or you are not aware of your mental illness,” he said. “Many of you know that I recently had an episode I haven’t had in maybe 15 years – and then I realized that I hadn’t been taking one of my medications.” He thinks this great, because sometimes when we take our medication, we start to feel good and we can potentially fool ourselves into believing that we no longer need it. “I’ll tell you what: I’ll be on medication forever,” he said. Over the years, Yalden has met many struggling people who say that they don’t need medication or therapy because that stuff is for “sick” people. “Listen: If you have cancer – God forbid – you go and get chemotherapy, and chemotherapy I hope will make you feel better and free you of cancer. If you need glasses, you get an exam, and the eye doctor prescribes you glasses.” We must stop stigmatizing mental illness and see it for what it is: A medical condition that can be treated and managed, like an allergy or diabetes. Yalden is a man who lives with mental illness every day and is deeply passionate about mental health. “My friends, it has really affected my life. And I think it affected my life when I was much less aware of what I was going through,” he said. After going through a divorce, Yalden took a hard look at himself in the mirror and asked himself honestly what he had to do with the failure of the marriage. “It’s a powerful place to be. I realized that my mental illness was much greater than the respect that I ever gave it.” He continues to look in the mirror daily – not focusing on how he looks, but rather on who he is. “I think when you really address those issues, that doesn’t make you crazy. It makes you a leader and a role model – somebody that many people can look up to. If you are being transparent about struggling with the same issues that other people are suffering with, that’s a good thing.” According to Yalden, mental illness is going to be the greatest public health crisis of our time. “It’s not a family issue anymore. It’s an economic issue, and if you and I are unwilling to talk about it, we are not going to make progress,” he said. “Let’s stop being part of the problem – stigmatizing mental illness – and let’s look to be the solution for people.” Yalden realizes that many of us are not suffering from mental health issues. We all get bummed out occasionally or have days when we’re feeling down. But then there are issues like major depression and dysthymia – a persistent and chronic form of depression that some folks don’t even realize they have. “I am not going to negate what depression is for some versus what it is for others, but whether we have mental illness or we don’t – we have a responsibility because we all know someone who is suffering. The best thing that we can do is to support them in their journey – but if they are unwilling to get the help that they need, then I will be the first one to say, ‘I can’t support you if you are not willing to get help.’” If your loved one is willing to get the help they need, get in their corner. “Support them. Encourage them. Tell them that there is nothing to be ashamed of because they are going to therapy and taking medication. – nothing to be ashamed of that you take medication. Let them know you are proud of them because they are taking that big step.” When a person can admit that they live with mental illness, the prospect of reaching out for help becomes much less daunting. And Yalden knows how daunting mental illness can be. “It’s embarrassing. It’s scary. It’s frightening. It’s humiliating and it’s downright hard – because you have some days when you just don’t want to get out of bed. You have some days where you just want to cry, and you don’t understand why you see these people smiling.” He said that for those who live with mental illness, smiling is hard – but when you see someone smiling, just smile too. And remember: Self-care is not selfish. “If you live with mental illness and you are seeing a therapist, it’s like being healthy and going to the gym every day. That is self-care – and if you are going to continue to stigmatize the people who live with mental illness – you are part of the problem. For more information about Jeff Yalden, visit www.jeffyalden.com Jeff’s speaking calendar fills up fast. To book him now for your event, organization or school now, call 800-948-9289.
Many know Michael Oher from his football career – he now plays offensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers – and from the Oscar-winning film, The Blind Side. At 6’ 4” and 315 pounds, he’s hard to miss. For Oher, it all started at Ole Miss – The University of Mississippi – and its legendary NCAA Division I football program. When Richie Contartesi walked on to the practice field at Ole Miss, he was 5’7” and tipped the scales at 155 pounds. By an awesome twist of fate, he was given one chance – and one chance only – to prove himself. In classic “feel-the-fear-and-do-it-anyway” fashion, Contartesi made the team and became an Ole Miss Rebel – eventually garnering a full SEC scholarship to the University of Mississippi. In the ensuing years, Contartesi became an in-demand public speaker, with a focus on kicking off and closing conferences. He is also the bestselling author of In Spite of the Odds: A True Inspirational Journey from Walk-on to Full Scholarship at Ole Miss. Reader Pat Canuso had this to say about the book in an Amazon review: “Reading In Spite of the Odds was like watching the movie Rudy, but with a machine gun.” Youth motivational speaker and Amazon bestselling author Jeff Yalden hosted Contartesi in the third episode of his BOOM Podcast. “Richie and I have a relationship that goes back a couple of years now, and I knew from the beginning that he was going to do some epically awesome stuff,” Yalden said, adding that he helped Contartesi get into the speaking market and mentored him from the very beginning. Contartesi grew up in Palm Beach, Fl., where there was a lot of competition for Division 1 and Division II scholarships. And he was already at a perceived disadvantage because of his size. But he said he was lucky enough to attend a new high school in his sophomore year. “There was not as much competition, [and that] gave me the opportunity to touch the field as a sophomore. I got to learn a lot early on,” Contartesi said. By the time he was a junior, he said he could play because he knew what was expected – and he was able to outsmart some of what he called the talent just from experience. But he hit a major snag in his senior year. A broken ankle sidelined him, and the colleges that were looking at him about potential scholarships fell by the wayside. Contartesi shared his story on the BOOM Podcast – how he had a chance to play at Jacksonville University, a non-scholarship school – but redshirted his first year. The next year didn’t go well either, after a change in coaching staff. “He took a look at my size without really getting a chance to see me play, and basically just cut me from the team,” he said. He had a decision to make: Hang up his cleats and quit, or continue to follow his dream of playing Division I football. He resolved to keep going, putting together a spreadsheet of 119 Division I schools, including phone numbers and the names of the head coaches. Contartesi picked up the phone and started dialing. Most conversations didn’t last more than 30 seconds, especially when he got to the height and weight question. But he kept grinding. A silver lining appeared when he found out that a man by the name of Kyle Strongin was interning with the Ole Miss football program. Strongin, who eventually became director of football operations at the University of Mississippi, went on to work for the San Francisco 49ers and is now coordinator of football operations with the University of Tennessee. Contartesi said he built a relationship with Strongin when he was 12 years old, and Strongin also coached Contartesi’s football team in high school. “He saw my character, leadership and playing style. Because of the relationship I built with him, I called him and said, ‘Hey man – can I play football at Ole Miss and can you help me get in?’” Strongin told him that if there was one person that he would help get in, it would be Contartesi. This was three weeks before school started and way past the admissions deadline. “He was able to get me in academically, and was going to give me one shot – one try,” he said. In this episode of The BOOM Podcast, Yalden and Contartesi talk about the importance of overcoming fear and self-doubt, while holding fast to perseverance – pursuing an important goal with bulldog tenacity. Contartesi mentioned studies that show only three percent of Americans write down their goals, and uncovered an interesting correlation. “When I was playing [youth] football, my coach said to me that only three percent of high school football players play Division I football,” he said. “When I was studying about goals and the fact that only three percent write them down – the same three percent get whatever they want in life. They live a lifestyle by design, and do what they want to do every single day.” Powerful stuff. “I wasn’t the given size. I wasn’t the most talented. I wasn’t the fastest, but I pushed myself into the top three percent by always putting myself in the position to be successful – by getting there early and leaving late – working with coaches, being in the film room every day – being in the weight room as much as I could, and doing everything I could that was humanly possible every day. It wasn’t given to me, because I didn’t have all of those other gifts.” In this episode of The BOOM podcast, you will discover Contartesi’s empowering views on healthy competition and how to find the fire within yourself, and more. Yalden and Contartesi work together in the youth speaking market and speak often on leadership, character and resilience, but they have a great relationship and help each other out – the exact opposite of cutthroat tactics and self-preservation. For them, it’s all about service. “Healthy competition is when you are secure with who you are – and you want to see other people grow and succeed as well. I think that’s awesome,” Yalden said. Contartesi’s daily routine involves affirmations, personal development study and a few minutes of meditation and regular workouts. He utilizes a vision board and a goals spreadsheet, taking the main specific goals and writing them down on a Post-It note every day. He also uses a task management app called Todoist. Yalden mentioned that Contartesi’s routine was like a customized version of the principles laid out in Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning. Contartesi is currently implementing the principles laid out in the Dale Carnegie classic, How to Win Friends & Influence People. Both Yalden and Contartesi are huge proponents of self-discipline, and Contartesi laid out his three-point plan to bring the BOOM and make a huge impact in a person’s life.
- Build Relationships/Find a Mentor
- Overcome Fear
- Be Persistent
Nobody will ever really know what prompted rock icon Chris Cornell to make the tragic final decision to end his own life on May 17. What we do know is that Cornell had just performed a sold-out Soundgarden concert in Detroit. The Daily Mail reported that he posed for photographs after the show and told fans that he would see them at the band’s next scheduled performance in Columbus, Ohio a few days later. Cornell was found dead later that night in the bathroom of his suite at the MGM Grand Detroit, and medical examiners ruled that he died of suicide by hanging – but as soon as that news came out, his wife, Vicky Karayiannis, took exception to this – stating that side-effects of the prescription drug Ativan might have led him to suicidal thoughts. Cornell, a recovering addict, was prescribed Ativan to combat his anxiety. His wife said in a statement that when she spoke to him by telephone after the show, she noticed that he was slurring his words. He told her that he may have taken “an extra Ativan or two.” According to family lawyer Kirk Pasich, the family will wait for toxicology results to see whether Ativan may have impaired Cornell’s judgement before his death. Karayiannis said that she knew he loved their children and would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life. We also know that Cornell suffered from bouts of depression and agoraphobia, which is defined by Merriam-Webster as “abnormal fear of being helpless in a situation from which escape may be difficult or embarrassing that is characterized initially often by panic or anticipatory anxiety and finally by the avoidance of open or public places.” To the outside world, Chris Cornell had it all – a loving wife and children, a music career that helped change the face of rock ‘n’ roll – think Soundgarden, Audioslave and Temple of the Dog – and a reported net worth of $60 million. Does his death prove that money and fame are not buffers against mental illness and that suicide can creep into all lives and socioeconomic situations? Suicide prevention expert and mental health speaker Jeff Yalden said that mental illness is not prejudiced toward any specific group and can plague anybody, rich or poor. “For many of these people, work and careers can be a challenge, but mental illness is something that you can learn to live with and function properly – but you have to address it. For Chris Cornell, I don’t know whether he addressed it. I’d be speculating,” he said. Yalden said that, from watching Cornell’s last performance, he appeared to be a shell. “He looked like had already checked out. It’s very sad,” he said. When somebody famous takes his or her life, the issue of suicide is brought into the spotlight – and Yalden has grieved with enough families to know that the issue is worsening. “I think suicides in general have been on the rise,” he said. “When it’s a rock star or a celebrity, I think the media sensationalizes it – and sometimes when you are a celebrity, your ego can get in the way of seeking help.” In the case of Cornell, Yalden feels that there should have been people in his life that could have seen the signs. “Somebody could have worked with him to have balance and boundaries so we wouldn’t be talking about this as we are now. His wife knew that he wasn’t doing well. His bandmates have had to know that he wasn’t himself. The problem is – if you are not looking for this, why would you see it. That’s the problem with all suicides,” he said. When the signs become obvious, that’s the time for family and friends to take action. But sometimes the loss from suicide is indeed unexpected and seemingly inexplicable. Yalden said that the symptoms for suicide are very similar to that of depression, and he has a three-point theory about teen suicide:
- I am alone.
- I am a burden and a liability to other people.
- I have the desire for suicide.
Youth motivational speaker Jeff Yalden is stoked about his new book, BOOM! One Word to Instantly Inspire Action, Deliver Rewards, and Positively Affect Your Life Every Day! BOOM is a book about motivation and inspiration – a book Jeff has been working on since he went through a spinal cord fusion last year while also battling type 2 diabetes, losing 80 pounds along the way. He briefly retired from professional speaking, but has since come back stronger than ever, reestablishing his place among the best of the best. “I am excited to get this book out there,” he said. “It is a book that is about celebrating little victories every single day.” But why BOOM? He recalls attending his nephew’s middle school basketball tournament recently in Wisconsin. “I was so excited. My nephew is going into 7th grade and he is already 6’3” – he is a beast – just a straight-up savage beast.” His nephew was controlling the boards and putting up 20 points a game. “Every time he or his team would score, I’d yell ‘BOOM!’ By the end of the two-day tournament, everyone in the gym was yelling ‘BOOM!’ They loved it, and I was really excited.” The BOOM stuck – permanently enshrined in this captivating new book. But what is the BOOM? BOOM is a revolutionary mindset that is about to bring awesome back into your life. BOOM is a factor and an effect. The BOOM is the jet fuel you need to be able to turn challenges into new opportunities and to reward yourself after every accomplishment and every plan successfully executed. And in this book – Jeff will help you discover your BOOM! “I want this book to be for young adults. I want this book to be for parents and people that struggle with mental illness. This book is about taking responsibility every single day – about adding one simple word into your life to take action – but it’s also one simple word that gives you reward for a job well-done – whether you made those three phone calls this morning – whether you got up and did something you didn’t want to do – whether you had to struggle through a project and at the end – like, fist bump – chest bump – you did it!” This brief read can change your life. “The average person only reads less than ten percent of a book – so I wrote a book 18000 words long. That’s it. I wanted it that way. I wanted you to read it – and then pass it on to a friend. That was my intention as I wrote this book.” BOOM launches on Amazon on May 28, but is being offered for pre-release for just 99 cents. That’s right – for less than a buck, you can download BOOM and start to make a change in your life! Simply head over to www.jeffyalden.com/BOOM and sign up to be notified when the pre-release drops. Also – Jeff really wants the BOOM to be significant in your life. He wants it to work for you, and invites you to be a part of his launch team by joining the BOOM Facebook group – www.facebook.com/groups/OneWordBoom. This is a place for you to share excitement – to share where the BOOM has been successfully implemented in your life. You can also see the BOOM moments and rewards that others are experiencing on this journey. “This is about a team. This is about togetherness. This is about BOOM – being a family. This is about all of us changing our lives and putting our best lives out there. This is about likeminded people. Call it the BOOM Mastermind Group.” Are you ready? If so, your BOOM awaits you. “You can change your influences. You can change your situation, but you’ve got to be wanting to make change in your life – and I think if you want to make a change, this book is going to be something that you need to read.”
Top Youth Motivational Speaker Rocks 32nd Annual Teen Showcase On Thursday, March 30, top youth motivational speaker Jeff Yalden arrived at Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby, Ill., to deliver a keynote address at the 32nd annual Teen Showcase – an event that aims to empower youth to make the right choices and to embrace a healthy lifestyle – avoiding drugs, alcohol and tobacco, goal setting and more. Teen Showcase is presented by a collective of regional mental health, medical and educational organizations in Illinois – North Central Behavioral Health Systems, LaSalle County Health Department, Bureau-Putnam County Health Department, Community Partners Against Substance Abuse [CPASA], Illinois Valley Community Hospital, St. Margaret’s Health, and Illinois Valley Community College. “This coalition is comprised of some pretty prominent people on the board, but what is great is that they are very, very supportive of youth programs: mental health, drugs – helping youth make good decisions and believe in themselves,” he said, adding that he teamed up with CPASA for a similar event the week before in Princeton, Ill. “They brought me in again today, but this was called Teen Showcase – where I was the opening general sessions speaker to about 620 high school and middle school students – representing 11 different schools in the area,” he said. Yalden focused on teen motivation, and he said the turnout was outstanding. Later, He received emails and messages on social media from young people, letting him know that his words inspired and helped them. “I guess I was a pretty big hit – and that’s a good feeling,” he said. Yalden is not a big fan of waiting to go onstage because he is usually naturally amped-up (he doesn’t normally drink coffee or energy drinks). To get in the zone, he sent up a prayer, did some mindful breathing and listened to some Jason Aldean – and in ten minutes, he was, as he would say, good to go. He covered a lot of ground in nearly 90 minutes, and started out with a question: “Who is the hardest person to get to know? Ourselves,” he said. He spent some time driving home the fact the world owes us nothing, and that he feels that, collectively, we are getting dumber and dumber. “We don’t think anymore,” he said. “We go home and we watch stupid reality television, and over five million [8.6m on Instagram] people are following [Danielle Bregoli] “Cash Me Outside, How Bow Dah.” He said that teachers start by teaching a subject to young people, but when you touch the heart, the mind will follow. Yalden stressed the importance of staying “in purpose.” “Something might take you out of purpose for a day, a week – a couple of weeks – but then there comes that point where you are like, ‘you know what – I’ve got to get up, man.’” He also said that that when you look in the mirror and you don’t like the reflection that looks back – don’t blame it on the mirror. “You have to embrace the process in life. Embrace it as much as it sucks. Embrace it because it’s the process that shapes us,” he said. To find out why Jeff Yalden is North America’s number one youth motivational speaker and to learn more about his programs, visit www.jeffyalden.com. Book Jeff now for your school, organization or event by calling 800-948-9289.
Jeff Yalden Electrifies Cambridge, MN By Roger Yale for Jeff Yalden, Youth Motivational Speaker On Wednesday, March 22, Jeff Yalden brought his motivational and mental health expertise to Anoka Ramsey Community College in Cambridge, MN, where he spent a full day with the psychology club and the counseling department. Anoka Ramsey was a top-ten finalist for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence through the Aspen Institute, which is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to educational and policy studies. After breakfast, Yalden spoke with college staff about a message board out in the hallway which had been seen a spike in negative feedback about emotions. “The board usually inspires kids to come check it out, and they would post questions on it, but the school was becoming concerned about their mental health and mental awareness – so they decided to take action and brought me in,” he said. The first step was mindfulness training, which began with an exercise to chart anxiety levels on a scale from one to ten, with ten being the highest. “For us to be healthy, I think we should be operating between two and four,” he said, adding that celebrating little victories and small accomplishments is a good way step back and provide a needed mental break. He spent some time teaching a basic meditation practice of focusing only on breath – the inhale and the exhale – for two minutes. “This slows down your brain – slows the process down,” he said. “We are concerned with how many likes we have on Instagram or who is following us on Snapchat. I think the best thing for you guys is to work hard at finding out who you are – and who you are not.” He went on to talk about his battles with mental health and depression and then shifted to mental health awareness and suicide prevention – how to look out for your friends and not being afraid to say something. “Somebody that isn’t mentally healthy is not thinking in the right frame of mind,” he said. Yalden stressed the importance of getting back “in purpose” after a setback or crisis. “When there is something not right in my life, I go right to the mirror. Take responsibility and be your best advocate.” But sometimes the first and best thing a person can do is to ask for help. “Sometimes the down periods last longer than usual. This is usually the result of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters being out-of-balance.” Two contributing factors to suicide can be dysthymia [a persistent mild depression] and adjustment disorder [usually following a stressful life event like a death of a loved one, moving, divorce, changing schools]. “If you have any of these for more than two weeks, go talk to somebody,” he said. One student told him, “My tomorrow will be better, and I will not feel down about it. I don’t let myself down because I love myself.” Impressed, Yalden built on that: “You are doing the little things every day to make tomorrow better than today – and you are making today better than yesterday.” But this requires consistency. “That’s an incredible discipline that you have to do every day. The problem is, you can’t just do it once in a while. You do it every single day and your whole life will change,” he said. To find out why Jeff Yalden is North America’s Number One Youth Motivational Speaker, visit www.jeffyalden.com. Book Jeff now for your next event by calling 800-948-9289.
By Roger Yale for Jeff Yalden, Youth Motivational Speaker After he was already booked to speak at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO, North America’s Number One Youth Motivational Speaker Jeff Yalden got an email that there had been a student suicide on campus. “The young man was a sophomore and part of the men’s lacrosse team, and as you can imagine – this rattled the community and the school,” he said, adding that the athletic director asked Yalden if he could come in a day early to speak with the athletes, because they would be out of town competing on March 21, the day he was to speak. This would have involved changing his existing flights, resulting in additional fees that would be passed on to the school. “They said they didn’t have that in their budget, and this weighed on my heart. I told them I would come in on my dime and do it for free. I’d spend an extra day and then come back on the second night,” he said. Ultimately, the school decided to go a different route, and Yalden spoke on the day he was scheduled. “We had a great turnout. About 150 people showed up to the mental health/suicide prevention talk – and we didn’t really talk about the suicide too much, but we addressed it.” Yalden did, however, talk heavily about his three-point theory about teen suicide: 1) I am alone. 2) I am a burden and a liability to other people. 3) I have the desire for suicide. He talked about major depression, which is short but severe – causing young people to feel as if it will never end and prompt a suicide attempt. He mentioned dysthymia, which is a lower-level but constant depression that can also lead to suicide if left undiagnosed. “Suicide is the culmination of a lot of things, and one thing can be the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said, and addressed the stigma attached to mental health. “None of you are laughing at me because I have glasses – and if I put my glasses on, life gets a little better. Same thing with therapy or maybe going to the doctor and taking medication. You [should] be your best advocate.” Yalden spent some time talking about cell phones and social media, and the effect these things are having on young people today, and said video will soon overtake all other types of content by 2020. Indeed, a recent Cisco study predicted that video will account for 75 percent of web traffic by 2020 [Source: Tubularinsights.com]. “That tells us that if young people are having trouble with social media today, it’s only going to get worse,” he said. Other hot topics that night were boundaries and balance. “I talked a bit about mental health, asking for help, learning how to put priorities and boundaries into their lives – learning to say know and learning to close their circle. It was a well-rounded program. To find out more about Jeff Yalden’s impactful speaking programs, visit www.jeffyalden.com. Jeff’s schedule fills up fast. To book him now for your event or school, call 800-948-9289.
Jeff Yalden Shares Messages of Hope and Comfort to Missouri Communities Rocked by Teen Suicides By Roger Yale for Jeff Yalden, Youth Motivational Speaker According to teen suicide prevention expert Jeff Yalden, the state of Missouri is going through a really tough time right now when it comes to teen suicide. Three weeks ago, Yalden delivered a comprehensive presentation about teen suicide and mental health in Hannibal, MO, and returned this week to Brookfield and Barnard, MO, two communities that are still reeling from the losses of two irreplaceable young people. BROOKFIELD On Tuesday, March 7, students from five schools in Linn County converged on Brookfield High School to hear Jeff Yalden speak to them on their level, and planting seeds of hope, enthusiasm and perseverance – and what he calls a drive for success in their journey of life. He captivated middle and high-schoolers, urging them to live in the now and what that might mean – the ups and downs, the challenges and the victories wrapped up in the everyday moments that, strung together, make up a life. The assembly was only the beginning for Yalden. He was booked by Angie Wallace, who founded the Taylor Gilpin Wallace Foundation for Suicide Prevention on behalf of her son after her son made the forever decision to take his own life. “Angie brought me in for an all-day event – high school kids, middle school kids, a luncheon with the community and a parent program – very similar to Hannibal,” he said, adding that Wallace and her son Tanner attended the program in Hannibal. The luncheon was attended by student council kids, physicians, the CEO of the local hospital, prominent community members and the executive director of the Missouri Association of Student Councils, Terri Johnson. A young man stood up and shared his story from when he was contemplating suicide. “Really, what this day was about was inviting the community to open their hearts and minds and understand mental health and teen suicide and how real it is,” he said. Following a dinner with the Wallace family, which Jeff cites as amazing, warm and generous, it was off to the parent program – which was set up at Park Baptist Church in Brookfield. The program was live on Wallace’s foundation page, garnering appreciative comments from as far afield as Texas. “We had about 200 community members come out to my parent program,” he said. “We had clear eyes and full hearts. We shed tears. We also laughed and did some reflecting. It was a beautiful day.” BARNARD That night, Yalden drove more than two hours to Barnard, MO, where just four weeks ago, a young lady named Baylee ended her own at just 16. “A lot of teachers and counselors said that Baylee was probably the most popular junior in her class and that she was an old soul,” he said, adding that Baylee’s grandfather also committed suicide, and that they were very close. “Baylee had a disease that was a little bit debilitating, but she learned how to deal with it. She had a great personality – vibrant and ornery. You couldn’t help but to love her, they say.” She took her life on February 5 – Super Bowl Sunday. He spoke at South Nodaway High School and noted that the principal, Darbi Bauman, was actually Baylee’s aunt. Guidance counselor Nick Wray coordinated the event, and Yalden met with all the classes individually before delivering a speech at the full assembly. The school serves grades 7-12 with total enrollment of 84 students. Students from nearby Jefferson High School attended the assembly as well. After a brief visit with faculty and staff, Yalden visited Baylee’s family’s house. “I sat down with mom, dad and her sister and heard the story. I read the suicide letter and saw Baylee’s bedroom,” he said. Yalden also saw Baylee’s scrapbook at school, and helped her fellow students clean out her locker – a poignant moment, but one which gave these young people a sense of closure. At the family home, Yalden was hit with a realization. “For the first time in my life, I think I’d come to realize that not all suicides are a selfish individual act, and there’s so much more to explain how I feel about this situation – but Baylee knew what she was doing. It was a combination of many things, and I think Baylee was just really, really tired.” However, Yalden said this left the community rocked to the core. “There is heartache. Everybody is hurting. They were very concerned with the kids and them moving forward. This is a very tight community,” he said. He closed out the night with a family/community program attended by more than 200 family members. “After leaving that community and hearing the hearts of everybody and the pain in those hearts, I’ll tell you – Baylee was definitely the one girl you would want to meet. To discover more about North America’s Number One Youth Motivational Speaker – visit www.jeffyalden.com. Book Jeff now by calling 800-948-9289.
Top Teen Suicide Prevention Speaker Visits Vanderhoof, British Columbia Jeff Yalden Galvanizes Nechako Valley Secondary School By Roger Yale for Jeff Yalden, Teen Motivational Speaker Vanderhoof, British Columbia, is a small Canadian municipality nearly a thousand miles north of Seattle. It was the first stop on a two-day speaking trip for North America’s top teen motivational speaker, Jeff Yalden. “The one thing I notice that is really different about being up in Canada is the people,” he said. Canadians are real nice and instantly they become like family.” Yalden was booked for a full day at Nechako Valley Secondary School on February 22, which included a school assembly, visits with at-risk kids and a Parent/Community program focusing on teen mental health and suicide prevention. Nechako Valley Secondary School serves grades 7-12, boasts more than 600 students and has been in place since 1955. Yalden said he spent a lot of time visiting with all the seventh and eighth graders in individual classrooms after meeting his contact, local government employee Debra Sewell and school principal Ken Young. “One of the things I love about coming into a community and getting ready to speak early is that you get to speak to the principal and the people who brought you in and ask them, ‘if you were speaking to these kids, what would you want to say.’” He also had the opportunity to meet a young lady named Ashley, 19, who is part of a Local Action Team in Vanderhoof. “Ashley is doing great things with the local government – trying to reduce the stigma of mental health, encouraging people to step up and do and say something,” he said. Many of the kids told Yalden that he was hilarious and the assembly was funny. “Well, I’m not really brought in to be funny, but sometimes you’ve got to deliver the content through humor – and that was great.” During the assembly, he stressed the importance of personal responsibility and living in the now. “If we can’t appreciate now, then we will never be grateful for what that can be about. If life knocks you down, you get back up and strive to get back ‘in purpose,’” he said. Yalden spoke about recent suicides in the United States, including the suicide of high school senior Quai Horton in Des Moines, Iowa. Horton left many direct verbal clues on social media prior to making what Yalden calls the forever decision to take his own life. “One of the things we want to teach our young people is – the right thing to do is when you know something is going on with one of your friends and to be able to say something – and to get your friend the help that they need. That’s what a good friend does,” he said. Later, Yalden met with a small group of at-risk kids, meeting them on their level. “At first, they didn’t want anything to do with it, but once I started using a little bit of the language that they were very used to using – that turned into just an absolutely incredible hour-long conversation.” He was also happy with the turnout at the evening’s Parent/Community program. “I was impressed with the enthusiastic and caring team of staff/teachers and school administration, and very, very impressed with the local mental health community that is rallying to bring all of this to their communities up here in British Columbia.” Find out why Jeff is the perfect choice for your school, organization or event by visiting www.jeffyalden.com. Why wait? Book Jeff now by calling 800-948-9289. TAGS: British Columbia, Jeff Yalden, Teen Suicide, Vanderhoof, Nechako Valley Secondary School., Suicide Prevention, Teen Suicide Prevention, Parenting, Responsibility, Youth Motivational Speaker, Vanderhoof Local Action Team, Canada, Mental Health Awareness, Secondary School Speaker, School Assembly Speaker, Canadian Mental Health, Teen Mental Health Speaker