Do you want to learn how to be a Youth Motivational Speaker and travel the country speaking to leadership organizations, school assemblies, and making a difference in the lives of young people in schools and on college campuses?
Yalden was invited by the Mathews County Sheriff’s Office to speak to high school and middle school students about life choices, mental health, behavior, and attitude. He also presented to more than 100 parents and community members that night.
Investigator April Edwards from the Sheriff’s Office organized Yalden’s visit. It’s fitting that after some due diligence about Yalden himself, she knew that he would be the ideal candidate to instill a sense of purpose, hope and direction to kids who might otherwise be tempted to go down the rabbit hole of risky behaviors and compromise their self-respect.
“Jeff Yalden came and took our schools by storm,” said Edwards. “He captured the attention of our students as well as the attention of faculty, administration, law enforcement, parents and many other vested adults from our community.”
She added that the kids developed trust in Yalden within two hours and then poured their hearts out to him.
“Jeff has a gift, and he has helped many of our children through a very difficult time in their young lives,” she said. “Many of these kids will never forget the day that a motivational speaker captured their attention, their hearts and their minds.”
Yalden was grateful to Edwards for going to bat for him.
“Thank you for organizing and fighting to make it happen. We made a difference today,” he said.
In his more than 25 years working with young people and school communities, he said he has met many awesome teachers, administrators, coaches and counselors, but he cited then-interim and now permanent Mathews High School principal Alexis Foster as one of a kind.
“Today’s teens are growing up differently and need trusted adult who can find the perfect balance of understanding, discipline and encouragement, while providing inspiration and hope – an individual who shows beyond any doubt that they truly care about the students that walk through their doors,” Yalden said.
“Mr. Foster is the embodiment of empathy and compassion, yet he held the kids accountable in a way that they felt empowered and hopeful – that their needs were being met and that they had solid futures to look forward to.”
Foster himself was more than pleased with the result of Edwards’ work to bring Yalden in for the day.
“As a school administrator, it’s very difficult to always find the time to say the right things or to do things to motivate your kids – but if you have the time and really care about kids, you need to invite Jeff Yalden to your school,” he said. “Just spending the day with him today, I saw lives changed, kids’ attitudes changed – and parents are now thinking about things that maybe they never thought about before.”
What Yalden most wanted to instill in the young people in attendance was the fact that the world owes them nothing.
“You get out of it what you put into it,” he said.
For more information about Jeff Yalden, go HERE.
Learn all about The Jeff Yalden Foundation HERE.
To book Jeff now, call (800) 948-9289.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Jeff will be on hand all day tomorrow, April 3, for students, parents, community members, and recent graduates. For details, contact Atchison High School at (913) 367-4162.
Atchison, KS – Latest suicide. I’m sorry. I’m here for you…. just a couple of thoughts from my heart to yours during this very difficult time. #Atchison #Kansas #Suicide #ForeverDecision #ItsOKtoaskforHelp #TeenSuicide #JeffYalden #MentalHealth
Posted by Jeff Yalden on Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Hey Atchison Community –
A lot of people in the community and parents have reached out to me and shared with me the latest loss.
First and foremost, I want to share my thoughts and prayers to the young man’s family, friends and the people that know the young man and the family. I am sorry.
I was just in your community. I love your community.
I wanted to come by and offer you a couple of thoughts.
My friends, I don’t think suicide is ever the right decision. I think suicide is a permanent action to a temporary problem – but I get it. I understand where young people are.
I want to share with you again two reasons why young people end up with the thought for the desire for suicide:
1) Young people feel alone – basically it feels like you don’t have meaningful relationships.
I get it.
We live in a world today where we spend so much time on smartphones and social media, and it’s about balance and boundaries. I don’t really want to go there, but if you spend more than four or five hours a day on screen time, you are 70 percent more likely to have depression in your life. So – I want to encourage you – less screen time and more social engagement.
And when you have social engagement – whether it’s a trusted adult, whether it is your friends – where you are problem solving, communicating and you are together – listen, that takes care of the “I am alone.” That makes sense, right?
2) The other reason is that you feel like you are a burden.
This basically means that you feel that you don’t make any notable contributions to the world and that you serve as a liability – and that you are disappointing your parents, teachers or coaches because maybe their expectations are so high – and you are spending so much time on your smartphones that you are not focusing on things that are really important: Your motivation. Your school, your future – your direction.
Here’s what happens: When emotionally you feel like you are alone and that you are a burden – and it lasts so long – suddenly you end up with that desire.
I don’t think young people want to die. I think one of the problems is that young people live in the here and the now.
Young people – you don’t know what you don’t know. Like, you don’t know what it was like at one time to not have smartphones, Internet, social media or YouTube – so you are the first generation growing up with this.
I think we have done a disservice to our young people as a society.
We have given young people these rights and these privileges where this frontal lobe, or frontal development has not matured and come into focus – so the emotions that come with smartphones, the Internet and social media – we’re not mature enough to emotionally handle the result of this.
If your parents aren’t going to say no and teach you balance and boundaries – it’s hard for you to put that balance and those boundaries in your life – but that’s something that you have to start working on.
Social and emotional learning does not come as a result of being on the screen all of the time. Online time can affect mental health in a negative way. Social engagement social interaction can help your mental health.
Think about it.
Two of the biggest things that we are concerned about with teenagers today are coping skills and problem-solving skills. We live in the here and the now. We think that we go to the bank and an ATM spits out cash. We send a text and get an immediate reply…
Again – Atchison, Kansas – I don’t know the details on this young man. But I will tell you this: It’s going to be OK.
My friends, it’s OK to ask for help. It’s OK to want to talk to somebody. I meet young people all the time and they say, “Yo – I don’t want to talk to anybody because every time I talk to someone, it’s like they are telling me my emotions don’t matter. I shouldn’t feel like this, and it’s like they aren’t validating how I feel.”
Part of being young is about having crazy emotions and feelings – and not understanding them.
And it’s OK to have that trusted adult to go talk to.
I spoke at a school in Indiana today, and a girl wanted to talk afterwards. The girl has been in counseling for two years. Do you know that today she told me more than her two counselors knew about her? I asked her why she felt comfortable telling me what she did.
“I don’t know,” she said. “You seem like you get it.”
Don’t you think you have trusted adults in your life that – if you gave them the chance – they would get it too?
Folks – we can’t help you if we don’t know.
“Well Jeff – I don’t know how to talk to someone…”
When you didn’t know how to ride a bike, that didn’t stop you, did it?
When you didn’t know how to ask a girl out – you still found a way, right?
When trusted adults in your life sit down with you and something is wrong, they know what to say. You just have to be willing to just go up to them and say, “I don’t know what to say but I am kind of really struggling.”
When I spoke to that child today, I can’t tell you how many times she said, “I don’t know” in tears – and you know what I did? I just kept asking her if she felt safe and if she knew she wasn’t in trouble.
As long as she knew those two things – little by little, she opened up. It was a beautiful day.
My point is simply this: Suicide is a permanent action to a temporary problem.
If you are afraid to talk to a trusted adult and you don’t open up to anybody – and living in the here and the now – all of this pressure is so much that you start to think that the desire is there – but it doesn’t ever need to get to the point where you have that desire.
But you have to have the courage to realize that it’s OK to go talk to somebody.
I am praying for you. I’m sorry, and I love you guys.
Don’t be afraid to open your heart and find a trusted adult. And they are going to support you and encourage you – but you have to open up.
For more information, visit www.jeffyalden.com
To book Jeff now, call (800)948-9289
Check out Jeff’s new nonprofit: www.jeffyaldenfoundation.com
My name is Jeff Yalden.
Many know me as a youth motivational speaker. For 26 years now, this has been my passion.
Since 1992, I have presented to more than 4000 live audiences at schools, colleges and mental health organizations in this country and around the world – and it is an absolute joy to inspire young people – to see their faces light up when they experience an A-HA! moment – and to help guide them on their lives’ journeys.
That being said, I am also a teen suicide prevention and crisis intervention expert.
This is the tough part.
I have grieved with so many families over the years, and with each devastating loss, the heartache and pain – the very idea of trying to be a source of hope and comfort only compounds the sobering realization that the teen suicide epidemic continues to grow.
Mental health is not just a family issue anymore. I think it’s quickly becoming an economic issue that could become the biggest public health crisis of our time.
The biggest problem I have is that schools today are afraid to talk about suicide. I get it. I understand, but we need to reach a point where we get comfortable about being uncomfortable.
But I’m here today to talk about the WHY behind the teen suicide epidemic.
His theory points to two factors that contribute to suicide:
“I am alone,” and “I am a burden.”
And what this means is…
The “I am alone” – which is, as Joiner says, a “thwarted belongingness” – represents a belief on the part of the individual that she or she does not have any meaningful relationships.
“I am a burden” – which is a “perceived burdensomeness” represents a belief on the part of the individual that he or she does not make any notable contributions to the world. They think that they serve as a liability.
So, when you have the “I am alone” and the “I am a burden,” – that kind of creates the DESIRE FOR SUICIDE – which becomes the capability for suicide over a period of time, and Joiner here again – the “capability for suicide is acquired largely through repeated exposure to painful or fearsome experiences. This results in habituation and, in turn, a higher tolerance for pain and a sense of fearlessness in the face of death.”
Habituation is a fancy term for getting used to something.
I became a fan of Dr. Joiner as I got into researching the topic of suicide – but more specifically Teen Suicide.
When you get to the “I am alone” part, you are like, WHY? Why do teens feel alone today?
Why do teens feel like they are a burden – and that they serve as a liability?
And then – why do they just feel so hopeless?
In all my work in the trenches with teens and talking to teens, I have come to believe that even the most troubled teens don’t want to die. I think it’s that they can’t find a solution to their problems – that the solution is so far out there that they can’t solve it and move forward.
Remember: Today’s teens live in the here and the now.
Teens don’t know what they don’t know – and there is no way for them to know what the future can hold.
And today’s teenagers – the Generation Z kids born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s – are the first teenagers to not know what’s it like to grow up without a smartphone.
Let’s look at this:
As much as we say suicide is because of this or suicide is because of that – it’s bullying, it’s cyber-bullying, it’s this, it’s that – suicide is never the result of one thing – but one thing can certainly be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
The reality is that 90 percent of teen suicides go back to mental illness – and if you think about today’s teens – two of the biggest challenges that we have are coping skills and problem-solving skills.
In my work, I find that that teenagers have a really tough time communicating – sharing their feelings – trusting in the circle of adults in their life – and so – when you ask me, “Hey Jeff – what is the greatest thing that you can give teenagers today,” I don’t even hesitate. I say, “self-esteem.”
But where does self-esteem come from?
Self-esteem comes from being challenged and overcoming those challenges.
I think self-esteem comes from social interaction. It comes from involvement with your friends and family – relationships. Self-esteem comes from being outside – coping through life – problem-solving through your challenges. Self-esteem is something we build every day as a result of being more active.
I think three things are really important to a teen’s mental health:
2) NUTRITION – Today’s teenagers are consuming over 200 grams more sugar a day than they should be consuming in a 24-hour period – and sugar is directly related to depression.
3) MORE ACTIVITY/MORE SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT
These three things play a significant role in one’s mental health.
Some say that Generation Z – the young people born after 1995 – are more likely to experience mental health issues than their Millennial predecessors.
Today’s adolescents are at even greater risk of mental health problems – and so you keep asking the questions “Why are today’s teens worse off than the Millennials?”
And then, “Why are today’s adolescents in worse shape than Generation Z?”
Let’s look at 2012. That is the time when smartphones surged into the lives of our teens – and with that, in 2012 – over 50 percent of our teens had smartphones, so they started to get more invested in social media, YouTube, the Internet, group texting –
In 2015 – they say over 73 percent of our teens had access to a smartphone. Today – 2018 – over 90 percent of our kids have access to a smartphone.
From 2012-2018 – in those six years, the smartphone became something that was very much more common in the lives of our teens. Not just more common, but more widely-used for longer periods of time.
From 2010-2015, surveys said that 35 percent of teens felt alone and a burden.
Feeling alone and a burden, going back to Thomas Joiner’s theory from 2005 – well, those are symptoms of suicide – and they are symptoms of suicide today.
They even said that suicide surged 23 percent – and teen suicide surged 31 percent – and that’s where we are at. These are alarming numbers causing great concern – and we are asking why.
Let’s not just jump to the conclusion that, “Whoa – Jeff is blaming this on smartphones.”
Hold on. I just want to continue asking why. Why is this?
Moving forward – 2012-2018 – that’s six years. More teens were depressed. Greater anxiety. Trouble communicating. Withdrawal. Social isolation – hopelessness – and seeing suicide as the solution to their problems.
Again – why?
All signs point to the sudden ascendance of the smartphone.
As more and more teens gained access to a smartphone, more and more teens were feeling depressed – and suicide kept increasing in great numbers.
It’s important to note here that these same surveys say that from 2010-2015 – the time doing homework barely budged.
Why is this important?
It’s important because it rules out academic pressure as the cause of teen suicide.
So – here’s my theory: Smartphone? If you are on your smartphone four to five hours a day or more, you are 70 percent more likely to have mental health issues. Mental health professionals say that one to two hours a day is the safe zone.
Going by these numbers – I think it’s pretty safe to say that time spent online affects a teen’s overall mental health. Right. OK.
Now – could it be that instead of time online causing depression – maybe depression causes more time online, one might ask.
And so – these studies show that this is unlikely.
My theory: Depression might cause people to spend more time online – but why did depression increase so much after 2012?
More teens became depressed for an unknown reason, and then started buying smartphones, which doesn’t seem too logical.
You might say that online time doesn’t affect mental health directly – but it still adversely affects mental health in indirect ways – especially if time online interrupts time for other activities. That’s that social engagement – that’s the other activities with friends and family – less smartphones, social media – more time problem-solving, coping, and one-on-one communication.
Again – going back to self-esteem – it’s safe to say that a teen spending time online interrupts time for activities where they could be building their self-esteem – (what I just mentioned: coping skills, problem-solving, communication) – life skills that are essential to their growth as a young adult.
I hope you are following me here.
Teens spend much less time today interacting with friends and family. Without interaction, our moods start to suffer, and depression follows.
Going back to Dr. Joiner – “I am alone – I am a burden.” Those two things lead to sadness. They lead to depression – and the “I am alone – I am a burden” – isolation is also a big factor in suicide ideation – better known as suicidal thoughts.
Let’s look at the amount of time being alone – the amount of time where you feel you are a burden. That brings the desire for suicide – Dr. Joiner’s theory is making sense – more so today – and the capability for suicide grows out of repeated exposure to painful or fearsome experiences
Now – this is starting to make a lot more sense when we look at time online – teens are more likely to be depressed, while making friends and engaging socially and in-person builds their self-esteem.
In 2012, this is what started to happen: Online versus in-person social engagement. Online harms mental health. In-person social engagement benefits mental health.
Remember: 90 percent of suicides. At the core, at the foundation are mental health issues.
I already mentioned that proper sleep and nutrition are a huge benefit to the mental well-being of our young people. They also need to get more involved. This is good for their self-esteem.
Is this research definitive enough? Maybe not. Is it too soon to recommend less screen time? The solution seems to be clear:
If less screen time can help lessen your child’s chances of falling into depression, then the danger of doing nothing can be high. Think about the possible consequences. If we do nothing, then we’re taking a huge risk.
A couple more things before I wrap this up:
Going back to Dr. Joiner’s theory:
“I am alone” is like, “I don’t have meaningful relationships.
“I am a burden.” This is about expectations.
Today’s teens have greater stress. They have the expectations that might not be realistic. They have the fear of not knowing who they are or what they want to do. That’s the “I am a burden.” And the desire for suicide – that’s the pain lasting and building up.
Also – the Dopamine effect from the social media, the Internet and YouTube – it’s like – “I want more, I want more, I want more…”
When you are spending four, five hours a day on your smartphone, the Dopamine effect is more and more and more – versus one-to-two-hours – you have less of the “I want more, I want more.”
So what does all of this lead to?
Our teens are on 24/7 – 365. This is leading to depression, isolation – a feeling that they are not worthy. They want to be validated with “likes” on social media – and social isolation is arguably the strongest and most reliable predictor of suicidal thoughts.
Social isolation leads to loneliness, social withdrawal, living alone with little social support – living in non-intact families. All of this really isn’t helping.
I think it comes down to vigilant parenting, less time online, more social and emotional learning – mindfulness practice – meditation – reducing the stigma of mental health, and letting people know that it is OK to ask for help.
To wrap this up:
Self-esteem: Again, social interaction, sleep, health, exercise, nutrition, activity.
Self-esteem: Involvement, communication, coping skills, problem-solving skills.
Self-esteem: You’re not afraid to ask for help.
Social Isolation: “I am alone. I am a burden.”
When our young people are interacting, they are learning. They’ve got friends. They are figuring themselves out – their identities – they are growing – they have trust – companionship – problem-solving and coping skills – laughter and better communication.
A couple of things, lastly –
Smartphone. Addiction. Isolation. Sadness. Loneliness. Lack of growth, The Dopamine effect. Diminished life skills.
It makes sense that Joiner’s “I am alone” / “I am a burden” is a problem. You see where social media is really adding to that. And then the desire for suicide that emerges from suicidal thoughts stemming from repeated exposure to painful or fear-inducing experiences that these kids go through.
Again – I don’t think students want to die. I think they live in the here and the now – and so they feel like they can never reach solutions to their problems and move on with their lives.
And with the here and the now – everything is just so readily available to them. I mean, you text somebody and you get an immediate response. You pick up your smartphone and someone is automatically there. You go to the bank – and an ATM spits out cash.
I think the biggest problems with our youth today are the lack of coping skills and problem-solving skills.
If we could focus more on social and emotional learning in our schools, I think we would do an awesome job of getting our kids to spend less time on their smartphones and more time interacting – I think that would make a huge life-changing difference.
For more information about Jeff Yalden, go HERE.
Find out about Jeff’s new nonprofit, THE JEFF YALDEN FOUNDATION
To book Jeff now, call (800) 948-9289
I was invited to spend the day with Newcomerstown Exempted Village Schools and heard that nearly 80 percent of the students there were receiving free or reduced lunches. I hear that stuff all the time but have never let that influence how I look at the kids or the community.
I arrived on February 20 at 6:50 in the morning for a seven o’clock meeting with the administrative team and was astonished to learn that all these people were born and raised in this area. They had grown up, graduated, gone out into the world and came back. It was that kind of community. I love that.
We had a great hour-long meeting, and I listened – learning about who they were, their needs, and how they value their kids. It was an awesome way to start my day.
My first impression was from high school principal Josh Branch, who texted me about parking in the pharmacy lot across the street and come in through the front doors, which I did.
Three steps into the building, I noticed the lockers – many of which were decorated with inspirational quotes and messages of kindness from students to their peers. The walls were also filled with uplifting posters and decorations.
Shortly thereafter, I met the young ladies who were responsible for such awesomeness. I assumed that they had put everything up the night before and asked them how long it took them to do this.
It turns out that these young ladies decorated their peers’ lockers in October, and the kids hadn’t removed anything – everything still looked new. I was amazed. At this point, I knew that this day was going to be awesome.
My first assembly was for middle schoolers. I spent two hours in the auditorium with sixth, seventh and eighth graders.
Did I ever mention that I should request a shower after my talks? I sweat a little too much.
These kids were amazing. We didn’t waste any time with an introduction. I just said, “BOOM – Lives are going to change,” and sure enough, a bunch of students lined up afterward to shake my hand. Some told me that I changed their lives. A few of them wanted to talk about their lives, and they did.
I heard about a group of girls that called their group “different.” I found out that they were very smart and mature for their age, and all had lovely hearts. However, they secretly talked to each other about their thoughts and feelings. This was a circle of trust in which they talked candidly about suicide and self-harm. Imagine being in the sixth grade and hearing this stuff about each other.
Then it happened.
I was summoned to the office and told about a self-inflicted gunshot incident that morning at Jackson Middle School, about 40 miles away. A seventh-grade boy brought a rifle to school and shot himself in a restroom there. [UPDATE: He died the next day. No additional details have been released, and an investigation is underway.]
After processing this, we had to get back to work at Newcomerstown.
But it didn’t take long before a couple kids came running in and told us about an incident in the auditorium concerning a female student.
Now we have the young girl in the office, and a couple of her friends are in other offices. School personnel responded very well – calmly and on top of things.
This is the team that I would want looking out for my kids. This isn’t my first rodeo, but it was incredible to see well they worked and how open their hearts were. I was very impressed.
This incident took a couple hours of our attention – talking to kids, parents coming in and figuring out who knew what.
The whirlwind day continued with another two-hour assembly – this time for the high school students.
If I were to travel with a camera crew you’d see and hear stories that would break your heart. I love what I do. It’s amazing giving these kids hope and support, but gosh, it can be tough hearing their pain and home lives.
I met with the teachers after school for 45 minutes.
At six o’clock, I gave a presentation for parents. More than a dozen mental health and other agencies had tables set up as well. It was impressive to see the support for a school community that wanted to be proactive about the issues their students face every day.
We had 125 people come out for the event, and I think that was a great turnout. We spent an incredible two hours talking about parenting, teen mental health, social media and the signs and symptoms related to teen suicide.
It was after nine when I was finally saying my goodbyes – and we all just sat in the auditorium, thanking each other.
I love my job.
For more information, go HERE.
To book Jeff now, call (800) 948-9289
[The Perry Township community is struggling with the losses of four teens to suicide within six months.]
My name is Jeff Yalden.
I’m a mental health and suicide prevention /crisis intervention expert for teens and young people.
Over the past few months, I have received a lot of cries for help from people in your community, so after this last loss, I decided to make the above video for you – hoping that you that you can do a little to help with all of you trying to move forward.
Parents and students, teachers, administrators and community – I hope you are listening.
I can’t do anything unless I am invited by the schools or the community, but first I want to be very careful in the words I use and how I say what I want to say.
Please understand that my intentions are pure, and my heart hurts for you all. Most importantly, I want to send my prayers and thoughts to every family that is directly impacted. Their lives will never be the same. For the rest of their lives, they have to spend time picking up the pieces and asking why.
I’m truly sorry.
I want to acknowledge each and every one of you – whether it be families, friends, classmates, students – teachers, staff members, administrators – the whole community and the surrounding communities as well. Not one person isn’t affected by these losses. And if my understanding is correct (I’m going off emails, social media messages and I’m reading online), you have all experienced significant loss in the past five or six months.
Four losses since August. One this past New Year’s Day.
In my work, I deal with teen suicide and loss every day – and words can’t adequately describe the pain I feel in my heart when I hear of the death of a young person. But I get it, though. I was once there. I understand.
After a suicide – or multiple suicides like you are dealing with – we’re left asking why a young person with so much to live for makes a forever decision to end his or her own life. Why or how would a teenager get so hopeless or feel that suicide is the only option?
My friends – our system is broken. It’s flawed. Our teenagers are growing up in a broken system in America, and America has a responsibility. The responsibility is simple: If we’re going to have Internet, cell phones and social media platforms –then our government needs to provide the adequate care for what this brings.
Simply put: We’re giving our young people rights and privileges that they are not emotionally capable of handling, and this can bring consequences like mental health issues and depression – and in many cases, this can lead to suicide.
IT’S OK TO ASK FOR HELP
We need to teach our young people coping skills and problem-solving skills. My friends, this is a parenting issue, but I think education needs to change. We need to focus more on social and emotional learning. We need to focus on and really build the self-esteem of our children and prepare them for life’s challenges, obstacles and situations. We need to give them the tools to be successful in life. In the meantime, we need adequate mental health care and counseling. We also need more involved parents.
We need to teach our young people that it is OK to ask for help without feeling intimidated or wrong for asking. But here’s what I am seeing all too much: When suicide happens, we’re left reacting. We are emotionally reacting. Parents and community are looking to place blame on the school, the administration, or the teachers.
“It’s bullying,” it’s that reason, this happened or that happened. “You’re not doing this…”
Suicide is never the result of one thing.
I will say that one thing can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, but suicide is never the result of one thing. Also, no administrator is ever given a certificate on how to handle a suicide – whether that suicide is on campus or off campus – whether it happens in the building, outside the building – whether it is an incoming student that is relatively new to the school community or it’s a popular student athlete, adored by everyone. No student loss or suicide is ever the same.
They are all different, and how they are handled isn’t really anyone’s business because the school administrator and his or her team has to think about two things – what is in the best interest of the students, and what is in the best interest of the teachers and staff members.
Our job as parents is to support their decisions and accept them – especially now.
Our job is to rally together and support the school, the teachers, and the administration – not just when we have loss, but every day.
Our kids ask two questions, and whether you are a teacher, a coach, a parent or anyone that works with youth – we need to answer these two questions:
1) Can I trust you?
2) Do you care about me?
These two questions are the cornerstone of every trusted relationship.
Parents – if your if your child needs a trusted adult immediately because they are distraught and emotionally suffering more so than ever before – are you that trusted adult they would go to first?
You are either saying “I don’t know,” or “probably not.”
BE THAT TRUSTED ADULT
This is a problem. Parenting today’s young people is a different game than it ever was before. Today, I would never tell a child that I am disappointed in them. The point I am trying to make here is that kids are a parent’s responsibility. Parents need to support the schools, the teachers and the staff – and our teachers and staff need to support our parents.
We all need to do what is best to teach, to educate, to inspire and to encourage our youth. We all need to be trusted adults where our kids feel safe, so that they can open up to us without fear of being lectured, judged or even disappointing us.
Let me tell you about teen suicide today. There are three reasons why teens choose to end their lives:
1) They feel alone.
2) They feel that they are a burden.
3) They have the desire to end it all.
Let me tell you something else: The students that are on the school’s radar get help and they are taken care of. The students that aren’t asking for help are not on the school’s radar. They are the ones we find out about – and as counselors and teachers, we say, “I didn’t know.”
How do we help those that aren’t asking for help?
We need to do a better job to teach our kids that speaking up and saying something is the right thing to do, because our kids are on the front lines, and they find out first.
Our teens want to talk to someone that understands them – someone that understands what they are going through today. They don’t want to be lectured. They want to be listened to and validated that their feelings and emotions are normal.
We all need to do a better job, from our government, to our teachers and coaches, and most importantly, our parents.
Our teens need to also do a much better job of asking for help when they need help. I can’t emphasize enough, my friends: It’s OK to ask for help.
SUGGESTIONS FOR MOVING FORWARD
Young people: I’d like to invite you to open your heart that you have trusted adults wanting to be there to help you answer life’s toughest questions. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.
You matter. Don’t ever think you’re alone.
You matter. Don’t ever feel that you are a burden to your family or society.
Parents: I need you to know that our youth today are hurting more than you can imagine – and starting earlier to feel emotions than we ever felt our own emotions when we were growing up. It’s almost like society is taking over. Parenting a child has become more difficult, with less parental influence and control. The speed of pain for a child is instant – almost as fast as turning on a light bulb.
Bring the family and community priorities back. Remember things like values and morals, kindness and community pride. Love and support our schools and our youth.
I challenge you to volunteer, sponsor, and donate. Give from your heart. And whatever rumors might be going around – let’s not participate.
Again – suicide is never the result of one thing. Talk to your children honestly. Be careful about sugar-coating the truth, because they know so much more today than we ever did.
For all adults, remember this: It takes a village to raise our children. And remember the two questions our children ask every adult in their lives: Can I trust you? Do you care about me?
Be approachable so that our children know that they can safely come and talk to you, and that you are not going to judge them for their questions and thoughts. Also know that all our teachers and our school communities are hurting too. Reach out and show your support.
A quick message to our teachers, staff and coaches: Thank you. Remember that you make a difference every single day. So many questions yet in many cases there are so few answers – but we are all responsible, and we need to move forward together for our youth and for each other.
Think about what is in the best interest of our community.
Let’s come together and respect how the school handles this on their end; the decisions need to be made, based on a comfortable balance – a comfortable balance compassionately meeting the needs of our students, their staff, their teachers and the community as a whole – while preserving the ability of the school to fulfill its primary purpose of education.
This is a very sad time – a time that affects all of us. It doesn’t have to define our year, though. I’m so, so sorry and I wish I can say more. My friends, suicide and mental health are becoming an economic issue, and we need all of you to speak up.
This is the greatest crisis of our time.
In the words of a friend of mine: “Choose life. Choose love. Choose you.”
I love you, my friends – and I am sorry for your losses. Stay beautiful, Perry Township – and I know you quite well, too. I’m sending prayers and thoughts to all of you.
In March, teen suicide prevention expert and youth motivational speaker Jeff Yalden spoke in northwest Missouri, delivering messages of comfort and hope to two communities reeling from the losses of two irreplaceable young people by suicide.
Yalden said then that Missouri was going through a tough time with teen suicides.
And now, another young person in Barnard recently made the forever decision to take his own life – and he was a recent graduate from one of the very schools Yalden visited – South Nodaway High School.
After he got an email about this, Yalden confirmed this with Nick Wray, the guidance counselor there.
“My heart just broke,” Yalden said, adding that the young man graduated in 2017, and was a senior when Yalden spoke there in March.
“He didn’t really hang out with kids his age. All his friends were all older than him. I don’t know the details, so it’s not fair to speculate – but what upsets me so much about this is that I spent 24 hours there,” he said.
One of Yalden’s regrets is that while he was in Barnard, he dealt with the junior class for the most part, because the junior class was hurting from the loss of their classmate, Bailee, who ended her life on February 5.
Yalden was upset because he repeats this message as much as possible, and yet it sometimes seems to fall on deaf ears: If you need to talk to someone, don’t be afraid to open your heart.
“Listen: We all have 100 percent potential, but if you are unwilling to ask for help in life, 100 percent shrinks down to 50 percent,” he said.
It’s important to figure out what you can do alone and what you need help with.
“If you can’t do it on your own, you have to delegate and ask for help. What saddens me is that the message is so strong when I say it: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
Yet he finds out months later that yet another young life has been snuffed out by suicide.
“Anyone can tell you that when you graduate, you have to go into the real world. It’s adulting and responsibilities, and no longer do you have the everyday structure and routine of going to school, doing your homework, going to sleep and going back to school.”
He said that in school, everything is kind of done for you. But after you graduate, what are you doing?
“Are you working? Are you in college? And then if you are hanging out with people older than you – and I don’t know about those influences – but are you ready to be 17-18 years old and hearing about the responsibilities and adulting of someone 20, 23, 24 – hearing about how tough college is, or the working world – or paying these bills? That’s speculation.”
Yalden’s intention is never to come off as insensitive. He has helped folks deal with loss for more than two decades. But he said that as parents, we need to do a better job of being present in our kids’ lives – teaching them about adulting and responsibilities.
“Nick was telling me that this young man was kind of a loner, and that’s another thing that scares me. If our kids are loners, why are they loners? Are we missing something?”
Every suicide is different, according to Yalden. Every suicide carries different emotions as it permeates throughout the school. In this case, the student had already graduated and gone out into the world.
“Bailee was the one that I went out there for. She was a very popular young lady, a junior and very well known. This young man was a loner, and because he graduated already, it has a different effect. It’s not in the school. It’s outside the school, but the shock is within the school.”
To the students, families, teachers and the school community in Barnard, Jeff sends his deepest condolences.
“My friends, I’m sorry. I wish there was more I could say or do. I want you to understand that what you are dealing with today is all over the world, and no matter how painful it is, I understand. I have been there.”
When we are young, we can’t see the wisdom in the phrase, this too shall pass.
“I want you to do a couple of different things:
It WILL be OK in time.”
Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.
“Know that you have trusted people in your life; people that you respect – people whose opinions you value. Don’t ever be afraid to go to them.
Yalden said that if a person is unwilling to ask for that help, then all too often the pressure mounts and puts them in a state of mind where they are unable to make healthy decisions.
“If you know someone that is hurting – emotionally hurting – and they don’t know who to go to, they are not in their right frame of mind and can’t really think and make sound decisions for themselves. You as the friend, family member, boyfriend/girlfriend, parent – YOU have a responsibility to reach out and do the right thing because you are able to think more clearly than that person.”
We all need to do a better job of supporting and encouraging each other.
“I think we need to do a better job educating young people – letting them know that life is a struggle – to dot your I’s and cross your t’s and to move forward every single day,” Yalden said.
But the other side of that coin is the possibility that we might scare our kids too much in trying to teach them that they need to be great and perfect.
“Life is not about perfection. Life is about progress. Life is about patience in the process,” he said. “The more we are willing to talk about it, the more we are going to be able to do.”
Yalden said mental illness is no longer a family issue. This is an economic issue.
“If we are unwilling in our families and our schools to talk about mental illness and the attention that it needs, then we are not going to be able to make any headway. Whether it’s mental illness, depression, anxiety or suicide (yes, that word) – if we are unwilling to talk about it – we are going to continue dealing with this.
We need to get comfortable being uncomfortable talking about it. We all have a responsibility to save lives – to reach out and let people know that what they are going through is temporary. Suicide is forever.
To find out more about Yalden’s speaking programs, including suicide prevention, mental health, teen coaching and more, go HERE.
To book Jeff now for your school or event, call 800-948-9289.
FOLLOW Jeff on Facebook.
Let’s be honest. We are all a mess – and that is the common ground where we must come together and pick each other up.
To the friends and family of Trystan and Tanner – to all the teachers and staff members – and to the whole school community: My name is Jeff Yalden. On Thursday, September 21, I am coming to Tioga. I am looking forward to my visit, my friends.
I get it. I am teen mental health expert. I have helped over 100 different communities to move forward after loss. Also – I suffer from mental illness myself. I am diagnosed with major depression, bipolar II and PTSD.
On Thursday, I want to invite you to come to school with an open heart. I understand what you are going through. I understand that many of us are feeling numb. We have questions – and, listen– I don’t want to be insensitive about this at all. But on Thursday, I promise you that my heart is going to be 100 percent with each and every one of you.
I am sorry about your loss. We can’t let this define us. The pain is probably going to be forever. There is no other way of saying it. But I will tell you something that I have come to learn: We are not victims in life. We choose to rise up and be victors. We can’t let this define us.
However, this is going to shape us – just like everything that we go through in life – and on Thursday, I promise you that we are going to laugh, we’re going to spend time in thought. We might even shed a tear or two. That’s OK – because in the end, what we need to do is go through the grieving process – and we need to come to a point where we accept what has happened, and we put this behind us.
Family: I don’t want to be insensitive. Please understand – but neither Trystan or Tanner are walking through the door again, and we need to accept that. And we need to move forward for ourselves. We need to more forward for each other.
Young people: I am honored that I get to be a part of your life, and I promise you – on Thursday, life is going to change.
Parents: I’ll be speaking to the parents at night. I know you have a lot going on, a lot you can be doing and a lot that you have to do. I hope you make time to come out. I am going to talk to you about our teens today and their struggles. We are going to talk about the speed of hurt for young people today. We are going to talk about suicide symptoms, signs – we are going to talk about what our teens are feeling today.
So until we meet on Thursday – I want to invite you to just breathe – and know that it’s going to be OK.
You might say, “Jeff – how do you know?”
My friends, I get it. I’ve been there. And I know for you it’s like, “I don’t want a mental health professional to give me statistics and give me textbook definitions.”
I’m not going to give you textbook definitions. I deal with this every single day. On Thursday, show up with an open heart. This is going to be a day that is going to change your life. I promise you that on Thursday, I will be fully present and engaged. I will be there early in the morning and I will stay as late as I have to. I am going to give you all of my heart. It’s going to be a good day.
Teachers: Thank you for letting me be a part of your school community. I know you are hurting.
Students: I am just honored and looking forward to being a part of your life.
Parents: I know this is hard -and you wish you had the right words to say to your kids. This is probably one of the hardest things our kids will ever go through – and to try to get them to make sense of the loss of two of their classmates – this is why I am coming.
I will see you guys on Thursday.
For more information about Jeff Yalden, click HERE.
Weighing on the heart of youth motivational speaker and author Jeff Yalden is the issue of teen suicide. He has grieved with so many families over more than two decades, yet with each devastating loss, the heartache and pain – the very idea of trying to be a source of hope and comfort – only compounds the sobering realization that teen suicide epidemic continues to grow.
“The first thing you notice walking through a school this size in a community this small is that you are not walking into a school – you are walking into a home. This is family,” he said.
The fact that there were only 84 kids in the building made it painfully obvious to Yalden how much a tragic loss like this could rock the students and the general community.
He remembered coming in for a day of counseling, humbled by the privilege and opportunity to be a source of hope to the community.
“Let’s be honest: We are all a mess – and that is common ground. We must come together and pick each other up,” he said. “We come from different backgrounds – raised in different homes – but over the past 25 years of doing this, it doesn’t change that we need each other.”
“More and more teenagers and adults are making momentary decisions that have a lasting impact. The forever decision is often made without thought.”
The fact that many teachers and counselors said that Baylee was probably the most popular junior in her class proves that suicide does not discriminate. Her grandfather also committed suicide, and the two were very close.
Nobody will ever know what prompted her to take her life, but there is some speculation that part of this might have had to do with health issues.
“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,” Yalden said. “You couldn’t help but to love her, they say.”
Yalden sat down with her mom and dad, read the suicide letter and saw Baylee’s bedroom. He 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.”
Yalden’s takeaway from visiting Barnard was moving.
“My team and I got to witness laughter and joy as we shared the hope and knowledge to make this event a catalyst for change in the future,” he said. “Baylee was a very special young lady that touched a lot of hearts and changed a lot of lives.”
To find out more about Jeff’s youth programs and suicide prevention workshops, click HERE.
To order a copy of Jeff’s new book, BOOM! One Word to Instantly Inspire Action, Deliver Rewards, and Positively Affect Your Life Every Day, go HERE.
Book Jeff now for your school, event or organization by calling 800-948-9289.
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.”