Yesterday, County Executive Isiah Leggett launched a public education campaign — BTheOne — aimed at preventing teen suicide and substance abuse.
Leggett was joined by Raymond Crowel, chief of Behavioral Health and Crisis Services, Department of Health and Human Services; Jonathan Brice, Montgomery County Public Schools’ Associate Superintendent for the Office of Student and Family Support & Engagement; parent Susan Rosenstock, whose teenage son died by suicide and August Balderson, a 19-year-old resident currently in recovery.
The BTheOne campaign includes a new website — www.BTheOne.org — which provides information on resources and ways to help others, advertising at bus shelters and movie theaters, and posters and flyers that will be distributed throughout the community.
“As a parent and a grandparent, I know that teens today face many pressures—to do well in school, to fit in socially, to figure out what they want to do when they ‘grow up’,” said Leggett. “We want teens and their friends, families and other adults in their lives to know that help is available.”
In addition to distribution of the posters and flyers throughout the general community, Montgomery County Public Schools will distribute the information to health rooms and guidance offices at 67 middle and high schools and flyers will be posted throughout the schools.
“Schools play an important role in supporting students and their families. As a community, we can increase our supportive role by recognizing the importance of behavioral health and the need to destigmatize mental health, suicide and substance use so that students and families are more willing to discuss the issues and see assistance,” said Dr. Brice. To underscore the important of these issues, Dr. Jack Smith, superintendent of schools, and Dr. Crowel created this public service announcement.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the second leading cause of death among school age youth. In Maryland, 26 percent of high school students reported having at least one drink of alcohol in the last month and 32 percent of high school students report that they have used marijuana one or more times in their lifetime. While alcohol and illegal drug use is decreasing, early substance abuse can have lasting cognitive and behavioral effects.
BTheOne encourages everyone to take five steps to help someone —
• Keep them safe.
• Be there.
• Help them connect
• Follow up.
“We want our young men and women to understand what they can do to for a friend who is struggling with drugs, or considering suicide,” said Crowel. “To not be afraid to take actions that may help to save a life. And to know that there will be someone there to help.
“It is imperative that we use this new campaign to show everyone WHERE they can get help,” said Rosenstock. “Once someone is identified as being at risk they should know where to turn next. This will also help friends and loves ones get support and linked to help.”
For more information go to www.BTheOne.org. If you or someone you know is struggling, call the 24-hour Crisis Center at 240-777-4000.
Photo courtesy Montgomery County.