BOISE -- Like a lot of young adults, Kaitlyn Carpenter has a tattoo, "It says 'I'm the hero of this story.' I got it my senior year because of everything I went through."
This BSU freshman is a survivor, and now she's helping others survive the very real danger of depression and suicidal thoughts.
"It's extremely terrifying not to be able to trust your own mind," said Carpenter.
Kaitlyn has dealt with depression since she was in high school. At first, she did what a lot of teens do, reached out to friends and often in the middle of the night with a text.
"It wasn't until I went though treatment that I realized how dangerous it was to only rely on friends for support," Carpenter said.
Now she shares her story and her warning to adolescents in schools and churches. Her biggest concern is that teens are texting in their darkest hour -- a form of communication that is superficial and doesn't convey the possible urgency of the moment.
"I would say the number one reason these kids who receive texts don't say anything is because they feel an obligation to text them until they go to sleep then count that as a victory if they don't hurt themselves and they feel an obligation not to say anything about it and keep it to themselves," said Carpenter. "It's a game that's so dangerous, It's becoming deadly and that's something I want high school kids in particular to understand."
Counselors like Peter Wollheim who specializes in treating people with suicidal thoughts, agree. Teens are not equipped to help their suicidal friends appropriately, but they often are the first to know the problem exists.
"As parents, it's unfortunate that you have to accept the reality that if your child is in trouble you're probably not the first person they're going to go to," said Wollheim. "Studies indicate adolescents talk to other adolescents first."
The biggest hurdle teens face in getting their friends help is that the fear of losing the friendship is stronger than the fear of losing the friend.
"I would tell people who are worried about that to just sit down and think about their priorities when it comes to people that they love," said Carpenter. "Is it really worth it to want them to like you rather than to have them in a good place? And live. Yea."
"When people see signs and they fail to intervene," said Wollheim, "I have a client who was in that situation over 35 years ago and didn't do anything, figured someone else would take care of it, someone else will handle it, who am I and so and so forth. And then their classmate died of suicide and this person has told me not a day goes by in which their life hasn't been affected by it. It's affected their relationships and their marriage, their relationships with their children. Every day they look at themselves in the mirror and there's always a sense of failure. I could've, should've, would've, and so and so forth. The other side of it is if you actually get someone some help, it's one of the best things you'll ever do. You feel really good about yourself."
"It's not as difficult as you think to get help," said Kaitlyn, and become the hero of your own story.
If someone you know needs help one place to start is the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline. The number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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Listen to Kaitlyn explain her story to high school students and tell them exactly what they can do if they are feeling depressed or have a friend or family member that they are worried about: