I was invited to Hiawatha, Kansas to help a family who had just lost their son to suicide. Kyler Jones, 15 years old, a sophomore in high school had made that forever decision to end his life.
Betty Brennan and her husband, Jim along with the family and Kyler’s dad, Rick Jones were raising money for suicide prevention for their community and local schools. They invited me to come for three days. Little did I know this would turn into a friendship and a relationship where Betty now works with me and my foundation - The Jeff Yalden Foundation, Inc. speaking and helping save lives and giving hope to hundreds of thousands of people every year.
I’m blessed and very thankful to work with Betty every day. Having Betty in the office answering calls, returning emails, messaging, sending stuff, and doing everything so I can be present in schools and with communities is amazing.
What is really amazing is that Betty listens to every client’s call and need for our help. We literally field over 10-20 calls a week with requests to help. Requests to come to a community where they’ve just had a suicide in their school and the students, parents, staff and teachers are numb. Betty has lived it, has worked at the State House to pass bills on Teen Mental Health and Teen Suicide Prevention. She is passionate about the work we are doing. I couldn’t be more thankful having her doing the work for me.
People tell me, “Jeff, I can’t imagine how you do this every day.” Well, the truth is that I come and give hope and teach suicide prevention. I am a coach, a mentor, and I love working with teens and parents. The person who has to be given the credit to is Betty. She is the one that listens and finds everything out. Every day it is another community. Another school. It’s draining and emotionally taxing, but Betty is a Rock Star and together I think we make a great team.
Here is a story of a mom who lost her son and looking back she gives some great advice so that no mother has to experience the loss she and her family has experienced.
Please share this in hopes that no other family loses a child. The hardest thing a parent will ever go through is the loss of their child and a suicide leaves the parents thinking they failed or where did they go wrong.
For Betty and Rick, it’s not that they did wrong. It’s more about the pain in a child’s heart is too unbearable that they think ending their life is the what will end the pain, but not thinking about the pain that is transferred to the whole family now.
Everyday in America and all over the world a teen is taking his or her life, but every day Betty and I are educating school communities and making a difference. We need your help. Education. More involved parents. More people speaking about teen mental health and mental health awareness. We need more people talking that suicide is not the answer, but asking for help and seeking help is. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to not be OK.
Thank you for reading about Betty and her story. I happen to think she is pretty amazing and her family is very special to me. We appreciate you and your support.
Love you to the moon and back, Betty. You are a gem in the world of pebbles.