Last Memorial Day weekend, our neighbor’s son Miles Roberts died by suicide. The shock and suddenness of this event stunned the Ann Arbor community which was already grieving the deaths of several other students. Hundreds of classmates and families came together at a profoundly meaningful memorial service in which his family celebrated Miles' compassion and vitality and his father compared depression to an invisible and powerful riptide current.
Like many families, we made a gift to the University of Michigan Depression Center in memory of Miles. Yet as neighbors and parents of two teenagers and as a father who experienced mental health challenges as a teen, my wife and I felt a call to action and so we are:
1. Raising additional money for the Miles Roberts Memorial Fund to support student mental health, community outreach and teacher/parent education surrounding depression and suicide prevention
2. Educating ourselves about the teen brain and teen mental health, and
3. Spreading the word about mental health issues by talking and sharing resources.
We ask you to consider making a tax-deductible gift that will support the expansion of the Peer-to-Peer Depression Awareness Program, a collaboration between the U-M Depression Center and Washtenaw County Public Schools, to the middle school. Funds will be used to train and coach teams of 6th - 8th grade students to support and raise awareness with peers by sharing knowledge, reducing stigma and encouraging help-seeking. We will match all donations dollar for dollar.
Prevention programs like the Peer-to-Peer Depression Awareness Program are critical as teen suicide is now the second leading cause of death after accidents for people aged 10-24 years old. Please look at the links and resources below to learn more. As to the name of our campaign, “RUN FOR MILES,” the inspiration came to me after seeing several runners wearing suicide prevention shirts in a recent race.
Chris and Kendra Theriot
Resources and more information:
Miles Roberts Obituary: http://obits.mlive.com/obituaries/annarbor/obituary.aspx?n=miles-roberts&pid=185679682
Local Mental Health articles Ann Arbor Observer: Suicide Prevention: After three deaths, the schools step up their efforts to support students. http://annarborobserver.com/articles/suicide_prevention_full_article.html
MLive mental health and suicide series: http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2017/08/anxiety_driving_teen_suicide_r.html
A great article from the New York Times: Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety? https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/11/magazine/why-are-more-american-teenagers-than-ever-suffering-from-severe-anxiety.html
Teen Brain books:
1. The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults: Frances Jensen
2. Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain, Daniel J. Siegel
3. Why do They Act This Way? David Walsh
PBS Frontline Series: Inside the Teenage Brain: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/teenbrain/
UM Depression Center Ann Arbor Public School programs: http://www.depressioncenter.org/education-outreach/programs/schools/