KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Although Carlos Velasquez, a senior at Blue Springs High School, is walking the hallways alone, he is not alone in the effort to help those that need it most.
“You Be You is this whole ethos that we`ve embraced. We`ve taken it up as our school theme, we`ve put posters up, talked about it during pep assemblies, we`ve made videos about it,” Velasquez said.
You Be You is a mental health campaign to give students fighting depression, anxiety, and other ailments a support system to prevent suicide.
“The same way that social media can amplify some things that aren`t as good, You Be You definitely helps us amplify the way that we help each other and are conscious of each other`s needs,” he said.
Allie Doss founded Speak Up, a local organization raising awareness of mental illness, in 2015 shortly after her daughter committed suicide.
“For every one completion, there are 25 attempts. That`s astounding to me. It`s not just children, it`s men over 50, it`s the LGBTQ community, it`s impacting everybody,” Doss said.
Doss said the pain of her daughter’s death has fueled her drive to help other teens that need help but are afraid to seek it.
“I felt like giving back to the school or giving them some sort of tools to help the kids be themselves, maybe Sara would have reached out to a trusted adult within the school,” she said.
Doss said this new campaign will reach 14,000 metro students and feels the power of hope can spark a major change to a serious issue.
“People need to continue getting help and continue seeking out. So providing that basis for the children that it`s going to be ongoing and there`s going to be help out there and there are resources out there is just amazing,” Doss said.
And that feeling is one shared by Velasquez and his South classmates.
“It`s just a great sign of hope for me. That we, as a small community, and the Kansas City area that we are taking these issues to great importance. We`re actually campaigning towards helping each other in terms of mental health, individuality, and so it`s just a great sign for the future,” he said.