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7Everyday Hero Kaylee Howell develops program that aims to prevent teen suicide

Posted at 12:56 PM, Sep 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-13 17:21:55-04

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — In an age when social media is king, being a teenager can feel far from royalty.

"There’s just so much pressure nowadays, especially in the school system, and I think teens are getting stressed and they don’t know how to take care of themselves," said Kaylee Howell, a senior who lives in Northern Colorado.

That's where Kaylee Howell and Five to Thrive Teen Health come in. Two years ago, they noticed a troubling trend among their peers: Young people were attempting suicide and taking their own lives and nobody was talking about it.

Numbers show suicide is the second-leading cause of death for ages 10 to 34 and Colorado's suicide rate is one of the highest in the nation.

"We had some friends that were affected by it and my brother was affected by some friends that had done it, and it was just so devastating to see people my age and younger are hurting themselves like that," Kaylee Howell said.

So Howell and her friends began Five to Thrive, a lifestyle program for teens by teens that aims to reduce teen suicides.

They have one goal.

"Just to save one life because that means we’ve accomplished something," said Kaylee Howell's brother, Tobi Howell.

Five to Thrive encourages kids to make healthy habits in five areas: Sleep, nutrition, service, self-care and fitness. The group also publishes a magazine full of resources and is partnering with local schools and hospitals to get their program about mental health in the hands of teens.

"They’re able to connect with teens and just to help them be able to have that connection to help those kids that are struggling, is huge," said Treena Dockery, a parent who has worked with the organization.

Tobi Howell said there is always hope and things will get better, even when it doesn't seem like it.

For more information of Five to Thrive Teen Health, click here.

If you are in crisis, call the Colorado Crisis & Support Line at 1-844-493-TALK (8255) to connect with a trained counselor in your area. You can also reach the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential.

Molly Hendrickson anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. She also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Molly on Facebook here and Twitter here. To nominate a hero in your life, click here.