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Teen's efforts spur sessions on mental health

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Lind raised more than $2,000 to help bring the assemblies to Iowa. Whether it was selling bracelets, putting up fliers or posting messages on Twitter to get the word out, Lind has spent time on this project nearly every day since winter break.

At Valley, fellow students have begun to look to Maria as someone they can talk to, she said.

mother, Deb, is proud of her daughter's hard work, which in turn inspired her to get involved by convincing local businesses to donate meals and hotel rooms to the To Write Love On Her Arms team. She also paid for the rental of Johnston Middle School for the public event. The message Vans Burgundy High Tops

"People have come to me when they were feeling super low, and I'm glad they're coming to someone," Lind said. "I've just given them the resources that I have." She plans to continue down that path as a volunteer with the Chrysalis Foundation, going to elementary and middle schools and talking to girls about healthy relationships.

Although the campaign was inspired by past pains, it will focus on "the promise of tomorrow," Lind said. A number of metro students have died by suicide over the past three years prompting teachers and parents to search for better ways to reach out to kids in need.

Maria Lind of West Des Moines sold hundreds of bracelets last school year in order to pay for a suicide prevention assembly at her school. To Write Love on Her Arms a national organization will visit Valley and Valley Southwoods on Tuesday, followed by a community event that evening in Johnston.

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That's the message behind a series of gatherings planned Tuesday in the metro area to address youth mental health. Lind, 16, turned to selling the black rubber bracelets to cover the cost of bringing the assemblies to central Iowa.

A Des Moines Register special report published earlier this Mbt Sandals Uk Stockists

"Sometimes people think if they talk about these issues that it's going to cause people to hurt themselves or want to attempt suicide," said Grabanski, 26, who will speak at Tuesday's events. "We have learned the exact opposite. It's when we don't talk about things that people live in secret and suffer in silence."

of the assembly, she said, "needs to be heard" by a community still reeling from the impact of suicide.

Lind lost a close friend to suicide in 2012. The impact of that loss has helped Lind, an aspiring child psychologist, to discover a path toward healing.

By prompting conversations about difficult subjects, group officials hope to bring greater awareness of mental health needs and resources in the Iowa.

"I saw a lot of pain from my classmates, but I also saw that once we started having a healthy conversation about our feelings, everyone kind of joined together," she said. "I think it's necessary to have that conversation before anything bad happens."

Half of all lifetime cases of mental disorders begin by age 14, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. But many families and school leaders struggle to find the right words to address the issue, said Jeffrey Kerber, clinical manager of UnityPoint's Des Moines Counseling Centers.

Such statistics, as well as personal stories, are included in the Florida non profit's presentations. The goal is to erase the stigma associated with mental illness. Each event includes two speakers from the organization, as well as a musical guest.

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The non profit's assemblies seek to chip away at the fear and judgment associated with mental illness and substance abuse, said Chloe Grabanski, the organization's director of fundraising. The group has sponsored similar events in more than 300 schools across the country.

Thirty two Iowa teens died by suicide in 2012, according to data from the state's Department of Public Health. Other Iowa adolescents struggle often silently with depression, eating disorders and other mental health issues, experts say.

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Seven percent of respondents in 2012 said they had made a plan in the 30 days leading up to the survey about how they would kill themselves.

Students deaths have also prompted discussions among metro area educators. A statewide task force convened Sept. 20 to discuss suicide prevention education for Iowa teachers.

Associate Principal Cook, who supervised Lind's campaign, called her an "outstanding young leader" who has embraced the issue of youth mental health "with passion and fidelity."

The assemblies on Tuesday will be presented by a Florida based nonprofit called To Write Love On Her Arms. The organization reaches out to people who are struggling with depression, addiction, self injury or thoughts of suicide. Group members will conduct hour long presentations at Valley and Valley Southwoods High School in West Des Moines during the day. at Johnston Middle School.

The Iowa Youth Survey has found the topic is on the mind of adolescents. The survey polls the state's sixth , eighth and 11th graders every two years.

Nonetheless, many kids remain afraid to discuss mental health, Lind said. Teens who don't share their struggles can become isolated, amplifying their pain, she added.

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Three boys from the community died by suicide in 2011 12. Two of the teens were students in the West Des Moines school district. The third boy lived in West Des Moines but attended a local private school.

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At West Des Moines' Valley High school, staff have been trained in prevention strategies, said Associate Principal Erika Cook.

"Mental health is Vans Design a very real part of the human experience, and it's the underlying cause of a lot of human pain and suffering," he said. "If To Write Love On Her Arms advances a community dialogue about mental health, that's something to be enthusiastic about."

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year found that more Iowa children are now being diagnosed with mental illness than in past decades.

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