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September 29, 2021
Chris Shanelaris

Connor Ball died of suicide in October of 2011, his family and friends decided that no one else should experience such a profound and life-altering loss. Connor’s Climb Foundation is the result of their love for Connor and their commitment to end youth suicide. Its mission: To provide suicide prevention education to New Hampshire youth and community. To date, their foundation has educated more than 30,000 students in 80 schools, and trained more than 4,100 educators and adults on mental health awareness and suicide prevention.

On Sunday September 26, my family joined dozens of members from ExeterPACT, and over 500 people who assembled in Exeter NH for an annual 5K in remembrance of Connor and to support those who’ve experienced loss--raising awareness and funds to educate others and prevent future tragedy. It’s important to know that youth suicide is on the rise. According to the CDC there’s been a significant increase--nearly 60%--between 2007 and 2018. This silent epidemic is preventable if we learn to recognize the warning signs and we work to de-stigmatize emotional and mental health disorders.

Behind the alarming statistics are children--daughters, sons, siblings, grandchildren, families and friends. Sadly, my wife and I have known several families who have unexpectedly lost children to suicide. It’s incredibly difficult and heartbreaking to try and fathom the despair that a child must feel to make this choice. Nonetheless:

  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24

  • About 1-in-5 youth experience a mental health disorder

  • 90% of those who die by suicide have experienced a mental health disorder

Childhood is challenging enough, and our kids face more pressures than ever. Hat’s off to everyone that already works with our youth--teaching, counseling, coaching, volunteering--providing much needed mentorship. Still, it’s crucial for everyone to know how to recognize the warning signs of emotional and mental health disorders, and how to effectively engage.

My sincerest admiration for the Ball family and the work that they’ve done. I humbly invite everyone to educate themselves on mental health and suicide prevention--you can make a difference.

Learn more at:

#BeThe1To #EndtheStigma #SuicidePrevention #Hope #MentalHealthMatters #YouAreNotAlone #Youth #DepressionAwareness 

#MentalHealthAdvocate #Community

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