Prosper Family Shares Story To Prevent Teen Suicide

NBC 5 has learned a Plano high school student took his own life this past weekend and news of the death is opening up the conversation about teen suicide once again.

According to a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics, approximately 1 in 6 children in the U.S. have at least one mental health disorder and only about half of them receive treatment from a mental health professional.  

In Texas alone, 1.2 million children live with a mental health disorder, according to the Children's Health Beyond ABC Report

Mental illness, if left untreated, can lead to chronic stress, depression, anxiety and in severe cases, death by suicide.

"He became depressed to the point where he basically decided to give up," said Prosper resident Cathy Speed, whose son Braden took his own life in October of 2018.

She and her husband Mark say their son, a boy who sought deeper relationships in a world of text messages and social media, had shown warning signs like talking about heaven and isolation.

However, after his death, they say they wondered if more could have been done at school, where they say he was the fourth student to commit suicide in four years.

"I couldn't handle just watching this happen again and again and again," said Cathy.

In addition to starting a blog, the Speeds became a driving force behind mental health awareness on campus.

They pushed to implement the Hope Squad program, which trains students on signs to look for among their peers who may be at risk.

Following Braden's death, Prosper ISD teamed up with Children's Health to launch a behavioral telehealth program on its campuses.  

"It can't just, 'be nicer, try not to bully.' It has to be something more significant," said the Speeds.

They hope their story prompts significant change in how people think about mental health.

They also want it to provide hope in the communities recently affected by teen suicide.

"Teach your kids to take care of other kids. It's a really simple thing but it will grow your child and it will grow that kid that they reach to," said Mark.

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