Last month, mental health speaker and Amazon bestselling author Jeff Yalden traveled to Cresco, Iowa at the invitation of Becky and Mike Bina. Their son, Kyler, made the forever decision to end his life in April, at just 16 years old – and despite the crushing and tragic loss of their son, the couple decided to open their hearts and give back to their community by devoting their efforts to suicide awareness. Over two days, Yalden spoke to parents and to students in the Crestwood school community and participated in a suicide awareness walk. “When I left Cresco, I left the beautiful family of Mike Bina and Becky Bina and their wonderful extended family. Their son Kyler pulled the trigger on April 17, leaving behind two notes; one for mom and dad, and the other for his girlfriend of six months. I have many thoughts and feelings as I learned so much about his story and the family. Parents nor family are to blame, but they’ve had to and continue to pick up the pieces. I could share so much more, but it doesn’t change that that Kyler is forever gone,” Yalden said. The walk itself included 200 families and friends whose lives have been affected by suicide. “I’ve witnessed the unfathomable pain of too many parents having lost a child to suicide,” he said. I’ve sat in their kitchens sometimes into the early morning hours in many homes. Wherever the final and forever decision was made, I’ve experienced the unexplainable feeling that still moves the energy of that space.” As a suicide prevention and intervention expert – and as a person who struggles with mental illness himself – Yalden knows the subject from the inside out. “I’ve been there, but knew I’d never pull the trigger. I know about mental illness. I love being able to make sense in a way doctors and psychiatrists can’t,” he said. He has long said that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem – and those considering suicide might not stop to think about the emotional pain their families and friends will go through for the rest of their lives as they pick up the pieces. “Think about the financial burden. The expense of a suicide is beyond your comprehension and in most cases, will financially ruin a family if you’re not properly insured and prepared.” Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. “There is help,” he said. “All you have to do is ask – and whatever it is you’re dealing with, you will get through it – but it’s never worth ending your life over.” For those going through a tough patch, Yalden encourages them to consider all options, breathe, and know that they are loved. “You don’t need to live in this pain. You can ask for help and get help. You can work through whatever you’re going through. Trust in a close and trusted adult. Trust your parents. Parents, be patient. Listen. Validate their feelings because our children only know what they know. They feel what they feel. They need you. They need to be heard.” Getting the word out that there is hope is a high priority for Yalden. “I have sat in bedrooms where the final decision was made. I don’t want to visit another family in their kitchen, feeling the pain and answering the questions that they wish they knew the answers to. I don’t want to feel the pain a parent or a school community feels when they knew this didn’t have to happen.” Ask for help. Reach out and help a friend. Help a family. Know mental illness is all our responsibility. Let’s not be afraid to talk about it. “Mental illness is going to be the greatest healthcare crisis of our time. It’s important that we start getting comfortable talking about it – because if we don’t get comfortable talking about it, we’re not going to be able to make any progress.” He said that mental illness is something that might not be important to a family until somebody in that family is suffering – and then it becomes all too important. Yalden can’t stress enough that problems come and go, but suicide is forever. “One of the things that I have really come to learn about teenagers is that they live in the here and now – the right now. When something happens – it might be severe and there might be consequences – but that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the world.” Take time to think. “If you are thinking about that forever decision, remember that, while it might end the pain for you – it’s just now starting for all your family, friends and loved ones. They have to live the rest of their lives picking up the pieces – wondering if there was something more that they could have done. Mike Bina, Kyler’s father, had this to say in a Facebook post on October 13: “I would like to thank everyone that made today possible. The support that my family has received from our community means so much to us. Today is a day that I will always remember with hopes that kids, teachers and community had the opportunity to learn how to deal with emotional distress and make themselves better in the process. Jeff Yalden spoke to 600+ students and many more instructors and faculty today with emotion and heart. I truly believe that he touched a lot of souls today. Jeff expressed to me how impressed he was with our students, school and community. It just goes to show what a great place it is that we call home.” For more about Jeff Yalden, click HERE. To book Jeff now to speak at your school, event or facility, call 800-948-9289. SUBSCRIBE to The BOOM Podcast.