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.
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