David Harris, the CEO and founder of CameronHelps, says he has learned that vulnerability is power. His youth suicide awareness charity supports run-therapy programs to help those suffering from depression, anxiety and mental illness.
The charity also makes presentations to schools and organizations featuring board member and social worker Jennifer Brighton and David Harris. On February 27, 2013 both were at Port Credit High School talking to parents. David highlighted his journey to “create a movement of change,” and Jennifer discussed how to reach out to your teen if you are noticing concerning behaviours.
David says there is vulnerability in opening up about the issues of teen depression, and fighting the stigma of suicide. But this vulnerability is a form of power – helping to convince others to get involved in suicide prevention. “Forty years ago cancer was the C-word that no one talked about. Today, the word no one talks about is the S-word.”
While some progress is being made in government-funded programs to help youth, change has to come from the bottom up, David says. He encouraged parents to support CameronHelps programs by joining their facebook page, going to its website and participating in the annual Father’s Day 5k walk.
Jennifer Brighton spoke to parents about how to talk to their children about depression and suicide. She recommended be direct and clear with your questions and take your child’s hints seriously. She said suicide is the second leading cause of deaths among teens and that in 2009, there were 4,000 reported suicides among all age groups in Canada.
Jennifer provided tips so parents can determine if their child is suicidal or experiencing depression that requires additional support of the medical profession. She presented ways to talk to teens about their suicidal feelings. Training programs like SafeTalk (www.livingworks.net) are available to help people catch the signs and find the right words to have a conversation with distressed youth, she says.
The run-therapy programs supported by CameronHelps provide a number of benefits to teens, says Jennifer. There is group support, sense of accomplishment and mastering a skill, indirect learning, integration of mind and body, as well as the increase in endorphin levels, she says.
PHOTO: Port Credit High School Principal Abedeen Remtulla presents David Harris with a cheque to support the charity’s activities.