ActivePaper Archive D-20 MENTAL HEALTH EXPO Student shares stuggles: ‘I’m still here’ - Colo Spgs Gazette, 5/3/2017

D-20 MENTAL HEALTH EXPO Student shares stuggles: ‘I’m still here’

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Macy Klein answers questions about her struggles with depression during a breakout session April 24 at the Mental Health Expo, held at the TCA North Campus. Photo by Kevin Carmody

First stood up a nationally certified counselor, then a researcher, educator and published author, followed by a licensed professional counselor and life coach.

It’s a tough act to follow for 15-year-old Macy Klein, who actually wondered if she belonged on an esteemed panel at the first Mental Health Expo: Tools Parents Can Use, held April 24 at The Classical Academy’s North Campus.

“It was weird not being a so-called expert,” said Klein, a sophomore in the TCA College Pathways program who was accompanied by her mother, Ginger. “It was hard being up there. They’ve got all these degrees and honors. I was wondering how I was going to measure up to them. While I’m not an expert, I know it from a different point of view. I do have experience with it.”

Klein spoke eloquently and passionately about depression and suicide because she lives it. She once made a decision to end her own life. On this night, she made a decision to go public with her struggles and experiences, hoping her voice might help to end the string of recent suicides — more than a dozen in the last two school years — that have deeply affected communities in northern Colorado Springs.

“Since I’ve had experience with these issues, maybe they’ll listen to me,” Klein said. “I’m still here, and I’ve found my place, which is to help people. There have been so many suicides, and it’s getting to the point where nobody knows how to catch it because a lot of these people were happy people. I’ve known them from school. If we can remind everyone in the world that they have a reason to stay, then maybe they’re more likely to stay when the moment hits.”

Earlier this year, Klein took her passions to the Internet with the creation of the website Project Reasons www.reasonenough.net “to remind suicidal people of the things and people that are worth staying for.”

She asks people to take a pledge and, in return, they will receive two bracelets, one to wear as a reminder and one to spread the message by giving to a friend. So far, the word is getting out.

At TCA, Klein and her family set up a table with information on her mission prior to the panel presentations and breakout sessions.

She left campus nearly empty handed.

“The morning of the expo, we ordered 200 papers with pledges on it, and almost all of them were given away,” Klein said. “We ran out of a lot of cards as well, so we’ll have to restock those. It’s amazing to see people taking the pledge, and I’m looking forward to spreading to other schools. And for the website, I do like to see that people are looking at it. It gives me a sense of accomplishment.”

And it seems that accomplishment is working two-fold, with many also being impacted just by her presence at the expo.

“Watching the audience, it was like you could hear a pin drop as soon as she started talking,” said Dr. Lori Salgado, a TCA parent who was one of the co-founders of the event who also served as a panel presenter. “To me, that indicates that parents really wanted to listen to her and hear things maybe their children maybe can’t find the words to say to them. It had that kind of power and value.

“To me, she’s an expert, and her voice was definitely needed.”