Every year Coach Phillip Fulmer and myself co-host a golf tournament fundraiser in Nashville for an organization called the Jason Foundation, an entity started by Clark Flatt whose son, Jason, was a victim of teenage suicide, and started the organization on a shoe string determined to fight teenage suicide tooth and nail.
Over the last 20 years or so the Jason Foundation has grown from a kitchen table organization to a national leader in the prevention of suicide among young people and more recently among veterans.
On the day of the tournament this year, I learned a heartbreaking fact, one demographic most at risk of suicide now is the age group of 10 to 14 years! For ages 10 to 24, suicide is the second leading cause of death!
Just try to imagine that! Ten-year-old kids who have not lived long enough to even know what life, its beauty, its promise, its excitement and its fulfillment are all about, falling into such despair, such desperation they feel as if they can't stand another minute of it.
How could this be, what could be so troubling in so young a mind that such a thing would even cross it, much less push them to the point of actually ending a life that has barely begun.
Well, the good news is that the Jason Foundation is straining every nerve to find out the answers to these troubling questions and has developed a system of recognizing the symptoms and signs these young people exhibit in the days leading up to suicide and in many of the schools around the nation teachers are required to take a course in recognizing these danger signs.
There are no statistics to adequately predict how many lives have been saved by this timely intervention but suffice it to say, it is known to be substantial.
A few years ago, Clark Flatt joined forces with Tennessee Adjutant General Max Haston in an effort to do something about the catastrophic suicide rate among our veterans which, even now, stands at around 22 a day.
A program was designed and a cell phone app created called Guard Your Buddy, an app that gives an at-risk veteran immediate access to a mental health specialist to help them off the precarious ledge of taking their own life.
Since instituting this program a few years ago the Tennessee National Guard has evidence of lives saved and there is a move on now to get this program adopted across all branches of service and all state National Guard units.
The cost is relatively infinitesimal in a government budget but so far, the powers that be seem more interested in building bridges to nowhere and studying the sex lives of microscopic organisms than financing a program that is proven to save lives.
Similar to the Guard Your Buddy app, the Jason Foundation has launched Jason Foundation A Friend Asks app designed for young people to help recognize suicide warning signs in their friends or give them tools to help if they are having suicidal thoughts including a one-click direct connection to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
While many of the causes of teenage suicide remain shrouded in mystery, others are well known with bullying being a leading contender.
This is a problem that can be dealt with, schools should be granted the permission to deal with the bullying problem, chronic bullies should be disciplined, penalized, expelled from school.
Cyberbullies should have their internet privileges and devices taken away by their parents and failing that by whatever means the law allows and if the law doesn't allow it should be amended to allow it.
A very accurate description of suicide is "a permanent solution to a temporary problem."
If you, your school or your organization would like to have information on recognizing the symptoms of a kid at risk of suicide contact:
The Jason Foundation, Inc. -Youth Suicide Prevention and Awareness Facebook Page
18 Volunteer Drive
Hendersonville, TN 37075
1-888-881-2323 or 615-264-2323
Click HERE for Jason Foundation A Friend Asks app
Saving lives is a serious business.
What do you think?
Pray for our troops, our police and the peace of Jerusalem.
God Bless America
— Charlie Daniels
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