Phoenix mom who lost son to suicide endorses proposal for teen mental health resources
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Teen suicide is an epidemic in the Valley, and a sophomore in Gilbert just took her life earlier this week. Now, state lawmakers and experts are proposing a bill to get kids in need the help they need, including a 24/7 phone app to give kids faster access to mental health resources anonymously.
Arizona’s Family spoke to a mother who’s dealt with this trauma firsthand. Andy Hull loved playing baseball for Sandra Day O’Connor High School, and the 16-year-old was always seen smiling. His mother, LeAnn, fondly remembers him by his nickname ‘Sunshine.’ “Because he was the display of sunshine, super involved, did well in academics, so loved by his friends, youth leader in church, one step away from being an Eagle Scout,” said Hull.
Now, she wears a necklace of him every day while explaining to the public that her son’s death is the perfect example of what parents don’t understand about teen suicide. How someone can excel on the outside but keep dark thoughts on the inside. “If you asked 100% of people who knew him, they would say some other kid, and that’s always what happens. Everyone is so surprised because our kids don’t talk about it. They talk cryptically, and it’s important as a parent to know where and how they’re talking about it,” said Hull.
Arizona’s teen suicide rate increased by 30% in 2022. Now, the new Teen Mental Health Ad Hoc Committee is proposing legislation to bolster resources for teens in need, including a 24/7 phone app for schools so students can report safety issues and seek clinical help anonymously. “Anything we can do to add one more resource is positive,” said Hull. But she said it takes a village to get involved to solve this problem of teen suicide. “It’s the whole community. It’s adults, educators, friends, kids,” she said.
She wrote a book called ‘How To Live When You Want to Die’ after her son’s death and not only featured her sons but other kids who died by suicide, too. “I know the impact that Andy made on the community, and I want them to know that their child did the same and that the loss of their child impacted me, so what can I do to honor their kid?” said Hull.
Now, Hull is hoping the parents see this story and start addressing the problem by tackling it head-on and having a conversation with their kids about teen suicide. “Until we hit it head on, address it, talk about it, and deliver some actionable solutions, then the suicide rate is just going to continue,” she explained.
If you want more information about Andy Hull’s Sunshine Foundation, click/tap here.
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