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. He recently recalled visiting South Nodaway High School in Barnard, Mo., just weeks after 16-year-old Baylee Hilsabeck made the forever decision to end her own life. “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.” The problem is not going away. “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.”
The media has been abuzz about the controversial Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why,” based on a young adult novel of the same name by author Jay Asher – the jarring tale of high school student who takes her own life, leaving behind a handful of cassette tapes detailing her reasons for doing so and implicating others in her final decision. The series has put many schools, parents and other groups in panic mode, with some calling for the show’s immediate withdrawal from Netflix – a knee-jerk reaction in anticipation of a possible rash of copycat suicides. One such reaction came from Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, president of the Child Mind Institute, in a recent interview with Savannah Guthrie on The Today Show. “It’s only a matter of time when we will start seeing more suicide attempts among teenagers and more completions,” he said. “The responsible thing to do is to remove the program immediately, not to keep promoting it.” It should come as no surprise that youth motivational speaker Jeff Yalden’s email and social media accounts have been blowing up with requests for comments on the show. Yalden has spent 25 years in the trenches of teen mental health and suicide prevention. He has spoken to more than 4000 audiences in all 50 states, every province in Canada and 49 countries. Along the way, he has grieved with and counseled hundreds of families suffering from the losses of their beloved children and has presented suicide prevention workshops in communities across the country. This experience puts him in the unique position to offer a valuable perspective on this situation – one that has long weighed on his heart. “Mental health professionals are afraid of copycat suicides,” he said. “While I do agree about potentially losing more teens to suicide, I think the show is sharing truth and will force us to talk and bring more programs into schools and communities. With more education and help, we can lessen the stigma attached to mental health and reduce the number of completed suicides.” “13 Reasons Why” might just be the wake-up call society needs to bring teen suicide into the light of day. “It’s alarming to a lot of people, because a lot of people don’t realize that kids are doing this every day. The bottom line is that parents need to be more invested in who their kids are, what their surroundings are, what they say and what they are doing,” he said. According to Yalden, kids are growing up much faster today for many reasons including the media, music, targeted marketing and social media, which potentially keeps them connected to the lifestyles and opinions of their peers for extended periods of time. Social media opens many kids up to the possibility of cyberbullying, a very definite factor in many teen suicides. Yalden understands the reasons for the public outcry, but teen suicide has been a constant over the years. He also commends Netflix for including trigger warnings before the show’s two most graphic episodes and the fact that the company will be adding an additional viewer warning card before the first episode as an extra precaution for those about to start the series “As a nation, I think we are in denial about how serious this is. If we don’t talk about it, we’re not going to be able to make a change,” he said, adding that we need to get comfortable about being uncomfortable about mental health and teen suicide in America today. Yalden sees youth mental health as an economic issue that needs to be addressed, and perhaps “13 Reasons Why” can be a catalyst for change. “We need our mental health community and our government to really step up and really provide the right outlets and put the right people in place to be able to answer the cries of our youth.” He has already heard from counselors and mental health professionals who say that kids are opening up about mental health and teen suicide as a result of the show. “Let’s remember that, ultimately – this is what we want to do. We want to get kids to ask for help – and because now kids are asking for help, we’re putting blame on this TV show, when the reality is that this TV show is bringing people to ask for help,” he said. Yalden has 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.
On April 11, youth motivational speaker Jeff Yalden arrived at Hudson Falls High School in Hudson Falls, New York, where he kicked off the school’s career day with one of his hard-hitting assemblies. For Yalden, the third time was the charm. “Weather prevented the first two attempts,” he said, adding that he was on his way the first time – and was actually in town the second time, watching a varsity basketball game the night before – but a snowstorm caused school to be cancelled the next day. “I had to leave and pay my own expenses to come all the way back, but – that’s what you do.” He said that assistant principal Danielle Kuba was his point of contact, and had been trying to get him to come back to speak for the past few years. Jeff’s assembly was followed by a career day, coupled with a St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser for childhood cancer research. In the assembly, Yalden drilled down on topics such as self-esteem and authenticity. “When things aren’t right in my life – even today – the first place I go is to the mirror,” he told them. “The fear of failure – you need to lose that real quick. Value yourself. Figure out who you are now – not who you want to be then – because then may never work out the way you want it to be. And it’s really important to figure out who you are not.” The kids participated in mindfulness training and were exposed to various careers, including law enforcement, education and the military. They were even given pointers on financial planning for their futures. “They had a few former students who were addicted to drugs and had to go to rehab and go through the court system. They came back and spoke to the kids, and they were awesome,” Yalden said. Yalden presented a mental health and teen suicide prevention program. The last part of the day was spent raising money for St. Baldrick’s – and this involved the shaving of heads, including those of students and event coordinator Kim Shea. Yalden offered to pay the difference to make sure Shea had her head shaved, with students chanting, “Shave the Shea! Shave the Shea!” “We raised more than $1000 to conquer kids’ cancer and a great day of school spirit. I am just really inspired about the day here – it’s about the relationship between the kids and the staff – and the staff and the kids. I think all of this contributes to a very successful experience,” he said. Shea was happy to see everybody participating in something above and beyond the confines of a regular school day. “When we have activities like this in our school that aren’t necessarily purely academic – when we take the time to connect with our students in different ways than we connect with them every day – it should encourage them to want to be here, and hopefully they will see all of us – all of the people from the community, all their teachers, their teaching assistants, the support staff in our building – and they will recognize that we really care about them in 100 different ways that they might not really consider on a daily basis,” she said. Kuba cited the day as one of the best she has had since she started there as assistant principal in January. “I loved seeing our kids in a different light,” she said. “I loved seeing them having fun. I loved seeing them connecting with each other – and to see them tune in to Jeff was incredible. To see them connecting with their teachers and the other staff members was just an absolute joy.” Principal Jim Bennefield was equally impressed with the day. “It’s just nice to see our kids live up to their potential. That’s the potential we know they have every day. We don’t get to see that every day, and hopefully we will see more of that going forward,” he said.
Top Youth Motivational Speaker Teams Up With 91,7 FM NGEN Radio for Week-Long Program Jeff Yalden, North America’s Number One Youth Motivational Speaker, spent last week in the Greater Houston Area, mesmerizing markedly different schools, teaming up with Houston-based 91.7 FM NGEN Radio, an alt-pop and hip-hop station, which, according to its website, is focused on bringing music and a message of hope, unity and love. Monday, April 3 started with two programs at Teague Middle School in Humble, Texas, where he presented to a total of about 1000 kids. “This was a very tough audience,” he said. “I promise you, nine out of ten speakers would just get laughed out of that gymnasium, but we had a great talk.” Yalden said it took about five minutes to get the kids to realize that he was legit and that he cared – and had the tools to deliver his message. He got nearly 30 minutes in each assembly, and was brought in by NGEN Radio. “NGEN is a positive radio station, and they are really trying to promote themselves and give back to the community – doing good things for the young people – and I am really impressed with who they are,” he said. “I am working with a team of people who are giving out a lot of T-shirts, towels and backpacks for these kids.” He said it is hard to walk into a school and do something good that the kids and the teachers like equally, but this happened at Teague Middle School. “We did more selfies with the teachers and the staff members than we did with the kids. It was pretty awesome.” His day only half over, Jeff headed over to Summer Creek High School in Houston to deliver his message to ninth and tenth graders – and he pointed out that afternoon assemblies are usually not as effective as morning assemblies. “When you are a funny speaker and the students go with a laugh, it’s very hard to get them to come back, but the ninth-grade assembly went great.” The tenth graders were unruly and disrespectful at first, and if Yalden wasn’t a pro, he might have thrown in the towel. “I walked off stage – and I’ve never walked off a stage in my life – and then [NGEN Radio midday host] Ayana Mack kind of lit into them with some harsh words like, ‘straight up, man – here is this dude who is pouring his heart out to you,’ so I gave it another chance and the kids were great – but I think it was the first time ever where I was like, ‘you know what – I’m done talking, let’s get the music pumping.” Each school had a dance-off with the teachers, which Yalden said was a lot of fun. Day two started out with a presentation to 300 seventh and eighth grade students at Gregory-Lincoln Education Center in South Houston, a K-8 school which includes a fine arts magnet program. “Outside their school, they have a brick roadway, and these bricks were hand-cut by slaves,” he said. “It goes right from their school into downtown Houston.” One of the administrators took Yalden outside to show him the roadway, and told him that it was a point of pride to the students and the community. “I got to thinking that this walkway is kind of like the foundation that we are built on,” he said, adding that he used a similar analogy with the kids – that our lives must be built on a solid foundation. Along with a crew from NGEN Radio, the next stop was Madison High School, once attended by football star Vince Young former Texas star quarterback and first-round pick of the Titans. “We just spoke to the senior class at Madison High School, and we went about an hour and ten minutes with them,” said Yalden. “We had a great talk, but the one thing I wish was that the seniors were more present and opened their hearts to listen.” Regardless, Yalden opened a Q and A session, and he said that some of the students asked some incredible questions, and he realized that some of these students really were listening. Day three blew him away when he arrived at Humble High School to present to 500 freshmen and 500 sophomores. “I knew from the moment that I walked into this school that we had something very special,” he said. “The entrance reads, ‘International Baccalaureate School,’ and the foyer was absolutely gorgeous. Once we walked in there, we just totally rocked it.” Yalden said the kids were so attentive and respectful that he could well have been a preacher – and some of the kids yelled, “bring it” and “preach it, brother.” After that talk, Yalden headed over to NGEN headquarters. “I got to meet about 100 people from the radio station. They had an app last year and just went live with 91.7 FM – and their goal was to hit 100 thousand listeners. Not even a year later, they surpassed their goal and hit just over 200 thousand. At a late morning NGEN worship service, Jeff spoke for 30 minutes to staffers. “I got to share my story about my relationship with God, and talked about how God has impacted my life to the degree that He had. It was just unbelievable,” he said. Jeff and NGEN Radio closed out the week at two schools: South Houston High School and Welch Middle School – and thanks to an intrepid limo driver – he made his flight home. “I think as a team, we got better as the week went on. We just had an amazing time,” he said. To discover more about the Jeff Yalden Experience, visit www.jeffyalden.com. Give your school event a pre-summer push. Book Jeff now by calling 800-948-9289.
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 Inspires Merrimack Middle School and Endicott College On Tuesday, March 28, North America’s number one youth motivational speaker inspired seventh and eighth graders at Merrimack Middle School in Merrimack, New Hampshire. “This is probably the only program where I ever had cancellations because of snow – and then finally on the third attempt, it worked,” said Jeff Yalden. Having grown up just outside Merrimack, Jeff was happy to be back in his old stomping grounds. “A lot of my friends went to this school or lived in the community. I felt like it was good to be back. I loved the administration and the teachers, and we had a really great time.” He electrified an assembly of 600 kids and later presented an in-service program for the teachers, with a focus on validating who they are and the importance of their work. He also worked with 13 at-risk kids.
[Above: Merrimack Middle School Assembly]Yalden talked about the value of a plan, and told the kids that it wasn’t too early to have a plan for their lives. He said that life will never be fair, but stressed the importance of resiliency. He spoke of trust and the human imperative of helping others. “You know what I think good people do? When we see our peers down-and-out and when we see that our peers need help, we help them out, right?” His teacher in-service program was well-attended, and Yalden pointed out that this was not mandatory for teachers to attend. Yalden’s mantra – Take Time to Think – resonated with Merrimack Middle School Principal Adam Caragher. “I said it in the p.m. announcements today, and it’s something I want to make sure kids are doing – taking time to think,” he said. Assistant principal Shawna D’Amour was pleased with the day as well, and impressed with the number of students who wanted to meet Yalden after he spoke. And a couple of Yalden’s talking points hit home for D’Amour. “Something I really loved is when [Jeff] talked about the Law of Attraction and if you are going to be a victim or a victor, and also – if you look in the mirror, is the person inside as beautiful as the person on the outside. I think that resonated with some of the kids,” she said. As soon as he was finished in Merrimack, Yalden drove 60 miles to Endicott College in Beverly, Mass., where he presented fun program that night called Real Talk for Real Men. Although he said he was expecting to see perhaps 30 students, more than 120 showed up “Quite a few women came out too, and it was awesome,” he said. “I love college students because you can be real and you get to talk the way you want to. After his talk, Yalden was surprised that probably 50 students lined up to shake his hand. Some of them said he was the best speaker they heard in their four years on campus. To discover more about Jeff’s programs, visit www.jeffyalden.com. Jeff’s speaking calendar fills up fast. To book him now, call 800-948-9289.
Top Teen Suicide Prevention Speaker Delivers in Missouri Jeff Yalden Addresses Schools, Parents in Hannibal, MO By Roger Yale for Jeff Yalden, Youth Motivational Speaker On Thursday, February 16, North America’s top teen motivational speaker Jeff Yalden visited Hannibal, Missouri to talk about teen suicide and suicide prevention – and in this part of the “Show Me State,” he was humbled by the people that showed up. Yalden was booked for a full day – presenting to middle school and high school students and teachers, and closed out the evening with a very well-attended parent community program. Hannibal High School lost a popular high school senior, Hannah, to suicide in 2015, just days before she was to graduate. For the middle school, Yalden spoke on topics such as keeping an open heart and fearlessness – about bullying, respect for self and others – and tried-and-true subjects like attitude and choices. Yalden was struck with the ambiance of Hannibal Middle School as soon as he walked into the foyer. “They are the Pirates, so it screams red and black with a lot of kids’ art in the front – and it’s a very enthusiastic building. That first impression is what you want to see in a school,” he said, noting the palpable sense of school spirit and pride emanating through the halls. “There was a very strong synergy in the building. I got to talk to a bunch of kids and teachers afterward,” he said. Yalden joined more than 20 people for lunch at a local eatery, Fiddlestiks Food & Spirts Company. “We had an incredible lunch with movers and shakers in the community, from the school psychologist to the superintendent [Susan Johnson], the resource officer and people from Hannibal Regional Hospital,” he said, adding that some of the folks from the foundations that brought him in were also on hand. Also, these people included Hannah’s parents and another family from Brookfield, MO who had lost a son to suicide and are brining Jeff to their community on March 7, 2017. The groups and individuals sponsoring Yalden’s visit were the Lois Eleanor Neff Foundation, Justin and Brooke Gibson, The Riedel Foundation, Early Bird Kiwanis of Hannibal, R.O. Parker, Hannibal Regional Healthcare System, Casey’s General Stores and the Hannibal Alliance for Youth Success. Yalden said two families lost a child to suicide in the area within the last two years. Lunch conversation centered on making suicide prevention a priority and learning what they can do to be proactive and keep the Mental Health message moving along – Being Proactive. “It was an amazing conversation about how to sustain this and what we can do differently. It was so incredible to see this community coming together and saying, ‘what do we need to do to make this happen’ and put a plan in place. It was great,” he said. When it was time to present to Hannibal High School students, Jeff was surprised that there were no 12th graders in attendance. “That was a little bit disturbing, because the seniors were the ones that had the suicide when they were just finishing the 10th grade – but we had a great assembly regardless.” A pleasant surprise, however, was the fact that 300 parents attended the parent community program later in the evening at the Hannibal Nutrition Center. “We went two hours, talking about suicide prevention, mental health, signs and symptoms and things to look out for,” he said. “We talked about how to be an effective parent and community citizen and open up your heart about suicide and teen mental health – and know that this is real.” Jeff also talked about teen cell phone use, social media, direct and indirect verbal clues about teen suicide and follow-through. He helped Hannibal High School develop a plan about what to do in the event of a suicide. “This is a model community that is doing great things. I had an incredible visit and am very, very honored,” he said. Missouri is experiencing a rash of suicides right now. Jeff is already booked in Brookfield, MO on March 7, Bernard, MO on March 8 and will speak at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO on March 21. To find out more about Jeff Yalden and suicide prevention, visit www.jeffyalden.com To book Jeff now for your school, organization or event, call 800-948-9289. TAGS: Suicide, Teen Suicide, Copycat Suicide, Anxiety, Attitude, Choices, Depression, Hannibal, Missouri, Educational Speaker, High School Assemblies, Suicide Prevention Speaker, High School Motivational Speaker, High School Speaker, Hannibal High School, Hannibal Middle School, Hannibal School District, Leadership, Hannibal Regional Hospital Mental Health, Hannibal Nutrition Center, Middle School Motivational Speaker, Middle School Speaker, Motivational Speaker for Schools, Teen Mental Health Speaker, Teen Motivational Speaker, Teen Speaker, Youth Motivational Speaker, Suicide Prevention