On April 19, youth motivational speaker and Amazon bestselling author Jeff Yalden visited Mathews, Virginia – a community in the Chesapeake Bay region of the state. 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.
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.
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 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
Top Teen Motivational Speaker on Suicide Prevention
By Roger Yale for Jeff Yalden, Teen Motivational Speaker
What if we knew we could have prevented a friend’s suicide but didn’t do or say anything?Meet Jeff Yalden – Teen Suicide Prevention Crisis Intervention Expert. This video shows Jeff in a community that had 12 teen suicides in one year, including four in six weeks. Jeff is today’s leading authority on suicide prevention and teen mental health awareness. That heartbreaking question is one that has been weighing on the heart of teen motivational speaker Jeff Yalden after the suicide of Lincoln High School senior Quai Horton in Des Moines, Iowa on February 7, just a week after Jeff spoke at the school. Another question can be asked in tandem with the first one.
What is the cost of losing a teenager to suicide?As far as Jeff is concerned, the true cost can’t be measured – and tragedies like these tend to have a ripple effect, sending waves of despair, anger, grief and helplessness farther afield than anybody can imagine at the time. But Yalden has long been a proponent of living in the now, and clearly now is all we have. And now is enough. “Be proactive today and do what you can to prevent a suicide from happening, or you will end up reacting and wishing you had done something,” he said. Obviously, this is easier said than done – especially if a person takes their life without any warning or without any signs pointing to his or her intentions. “Many people who commit suicide do so without letting on they are thinking about it or planning it,” said Dr. Michael Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in a 2012 Harvard Health Blog article by Patrick J. Skerrett, former Executive Editor of Harvard Health. At that time, Skerrett wrote that “more than 100 Americans commit suicide every day. It’s the tenth leading cause of death overall; third among 15- to 24-year-olds and fourth among 25-to 44-year-olds.” For teens, suicide is right behind accidents/unintentional injuries and homicides, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC. But most people will at least drop a clue. Suicide is not the answer. Watch Jeff’s video here: In a list of youth suicide facts and myths, the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network said that “people who are thinking about suicide usually find some way of communicating their pain to others – often by speaking indirectly about their intentions. Most suicidal people will admit to their feelings if questioned directly.” For teens, social media is often the preferred platform for this pain. This was true in the case of Quai Horton – and this was summed up in Jeff’s blog post on February 9: “What Yalden found the most disturbing about this young man’s suicide was that there were very direct verbal clues on his Facebook page indicating his intentions – and yet nobody said a word about it.” But make no mistake. Somebody saw these clues. Shortly after Jeff posted a video to YouTube about Horton and how sorry he was about the tragedy, the comments started to come in. One person told Yalden to kill himself. Another said he knew Quai was hurting and told adults about it. The veracity of the latter cannot be proven because yet another individual alluded that this was not the case. “We got help for the kid who told me to kill myself,” Yalden said. We will likely never know if anybody really stepped up, but the takeaway here is that at least a handful of Horton’s fellow students knew that he was in a bad place. But if anything, Yalden doesn’t believe anybody went far enough to bring any of this to light. “Your friend is hurting. You are 15 or 16 years old and you might call your friend every day, but you cannot break through the struggles that people are feeling mentally and emotionally. You don’t know how. An assessment needs to be done to find out if we need to treat this person. It’s really as simple as that,” he said. An administrator at Lincoln High School told Yalden recently that Horton would sit alone every day at lunch – and he would usually go up to him to see how he was doing. “Quai was a quiet dude, and there is nothing really wrong with sitting alone, but where sitting alone raises a red flag is that we don’t know the child’s mental state,” Yalden said, adding that sometimes a student might sit alone because they might simply be having a bad day or getting ready for an exam. “I think we should visit with them. If a child is consistently sitting alone, I would say to students and educators to just go and sit with that person and draw them out on any topic that might interest them.” 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.
Best Youth Motivational Speaker Inspires in Lena, Wisconsin Jeff Yalden Delivers at Wisconsin Student Council Event in Lena, WI. By Roger Yale for Jeff Yalden, Youth Motivational Speaker By all accounts, the school district in the Village of Lena, Wisconsin is a small one – consisting of an elementary school, a combined middle and high school and an alternative school with a total population of just over 400 kids. Lena itself is a very small community. But administrators in many bigger districts with overcrowded and understaffed schools would perhaps see the incredible value in this. The Lena Public School District’s website boasts that “we have low student to teacher ratios as well as the opportunity for individual attention that is attainable in a small district. Some students do not realize the advantage we, as Lena Wildcats, have.” On Monday, February 13, top teen motivational speaker Jeff Yalden was on hand for a high school student council event for 47 students from 9 surrounding schools – speaking on topics from his toolbox such as personal leadership, leading by influence and the importance of believing in yourself. Yalden was impressed with a student named Josh, who displayed excellent leadership traits and unselfishness right off the bat. “We always talk about student leadership and your influence on people. Every school has students or a student we always see sitting alone. We always talk about – ‘hey, go introduce yourself to that person or go befriend that person. Invite them over to sit with your friends.’ Well I brought my nephew Gus to this conference – I just watched [Josh] get up out of his group friends and go introduce himself to Gus and to over to the students sitting alone – and invited them to sit with his group.” To Yalden, that’s what leadership is – reaching out of your comfort zone and making sure that everybody is a part of the team. “Leadership is about doing the right thing,” he said. Lunch was then served by the school’s culinary class. “They did a beautiful lunch. The food class did an incredible job of serving all of the kids and the advisors,” Yalden said. After lunch, Jeff presented a leadership-building activity that he calls “The Longest Human Bridge,” where groups were challenged to connect with each other, with very little contact with the ground. The point of this exercise was summed up by Yalden: “I wanted them to understand the importance of communication and to think outside the box – to work together and to never give up,” he said. Yalden, who has has addressed more than 4000 teen audiences in all 50 states, every province in Canada and 49 countries, said the challenge he encountered with the kids in Lena was that they were very quiet. “We were north of Green Bay by about 30 minutes, and I don’t know if these kids were just shocked, but I have been noticing that a lot of young people today are just very quiet. But nonetheless, they were awesome.” At the end of the day, Yalden spoke to the middle school and high school students from the Lena School District. “It’s hard to make students and adults happy at the same time – but for an hour and ten minutes, we had an absolute blast,” he said. “Kids and teachers were laughing hysterically, and it was so much fun. We talked about believing in yourself, your attitude, your choices – doing the best you can, and goal setting.” Yalden has long believed that a dream will always be a dream unless it is backed up by a plan of action, and he set about to teach these students that important difference. “True leaders do not compare themselves to other people. Too many of you are willing to compromise your success for what you want right now,” he said. Find out why Jeff Yalden is North America’s Number One Youth Motivational Speaker, go to www.jeffyalden.com. Recently, Jeff was the keynote speaker for the Arizona State Student Council Conference too. Watch his video here: To book Jeff now for your event, organization or school now, call 800-948-9289. Best High School Motivational Speaker, Character Education, Character Education Speakers, Lena School District, Lena Wisconsin, High School Speaker, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Schools, Green Bay, Student Council, Leadership, Jeff Yalden, Mental Health Speaker, Teen Mental Health Awareness, Teen Mental Health Speaker, Teen Speaker, Youth Motivational Speaker
Suicide: The Forever Decision By Roger Yale for Jeff Yalden, Youth Motivational Speaker On February 7, 2017 – not even a week after Jeff spoke at Lincoln High School in Des Moines, Iowa – he got the news that high school senior Quai Horton had taken his life. “I have a picture of him about five feet away from where I was speaking,” he said, adding that he also conducted an in-service training for teachers at the high school about mental health and teen suicide. Days later, it became a reality when Horton made his “forever decision.” “I want to offer my prayers, thoughts and condolences to all of the classmates, students, staff members and teachers – the Des Moines community – and most of all to the parents and close friends of our friend, ‘Q,” he said in a video message about Horton. What Yalden found the most disturbing about this young man’s suicide was that there were very direct verbal clues on his Facebook page indicating his intentions – and yet nobody said a word about it. “I want to tell you something: I spent some time on Q’s Facebook page – and from January 26 to Monday [February 6] – what breaks my heart are that the signs were very direct and very clear,” he said. There was more than a week for someone to come forward, and yet nobody said anything. This must stop. “When you have a friend or you know someone is hurting and the signs are real clear like they were – my friends, you’ve got to say something. You’ve got to tell a trusted adult in your life. If worse comes to worst and you don’t know who to call – you call 911 – you call the police.” Because there is a concern about “copycat suicides” – it is of utmost importance for the community to remain vigilant for the telltale signs. Jeff has long believed that suicide is a permanent action to a temporary problem, and his theory on teen suicide has three components:
- They feel like they are alone.
- They feel like they’re are a burden to someone.
- They have a desire for suicide.