“I lost a reason to breathe… my heart, my sunshine, my son.”

Leia Pierce’s son Jamel died by suicide in August. He was 9 years old.

At a church in Cherry Hills Village last night, 18 parents like Leia gathered in a quiet room at the end of a dark hallway. Their children had all died by suicide, and their grief was overwhelming.

A flicker of hope came earlier in the day, in the bright lights of a press conference in Aurora. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman announced a $2.8 million grant to Children’s Hospital Colorado and Mental Health Colorado.

We’re launching a statewide initiative to improve children’s mental health, including the implementation of our School Mental Health Toolkit. The toolkit lays out evidence-based strategies to enhance social and emotional learning, identify and address the early signs of mental health and substance use disorders, and reduce the risk of suicide.

The parents I met last night pleaded for help, but not for their own sake; it was too late for that. They wanted to spare other families the anguish they’d suffered.

Learn what you can do. Watch our short video or email toolkit@mentalhealthcolorado.org.

-Andrew Romanoff