Wyoming teen advocates for mental health
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Jaidyn Cowley a junior at Wyoming Connection Academy has become an advocate for mental health after experiencing mental healht struggles herself.
Jaidyn recently delivered a suicide awareness speech at a veteran’s organization banquet after experiencing the death of a friend to suicide and connecting with Wyoming veterans to hear their perspectives on mental health. Through the banquet, Jayden raised $1500, which she in turn donated to Grace for 2 Brothers, an organization that supports both teenagers and veterans.
Her speech is as follows
“I thought the hardest parts of growing up would be learning to ride a bike, brushing my own teeth and doing my hair. Now as a 16 almost 17 years old I realize there is way more to it then my child self wants to hear. Suicide is a big part of being not only a teenager but also an adult. I have lost multiple people to suicide friends, family and others. As of a year ago I was struggling with depression, never getting out of bed and never taking care of myself, I lost a lot and didn’t know how to process it. I realized I needed help and I began therapy. It helped me immensely. As someone who has personally suffered through these thoughts and heartaches alone I would like to bring more awareness to the situation.
In 2022 the Veterans Administration released the National Veteran Suicide Prevention annual report and the data shown was around 6,000 or more veteran deaths by suicide per year. Veterans are 2 times more likely to die by suicide then non-veteran adults. Big factors of suicide can be financial problems, relationship problems, family, work or trauma. Men have a big stereotype when it comes to this subject. People assume that men can’t show feelings, they are big boys and can handle things themselves. Not saying that women don’t struggle with this too, but people expect women to show emotion and not men. Men need to know that you don’t have to be the big guy, you can have feelings and you can share them. You are not alone. Stress can play a big role in this too. Overworking and overthinking are stressful. Focusing on your mental health is exhausting enough but sometimes we still have to get out of bed and take care of the things that we have to do, like a job, kids or school. Mental health and physical health are big things to focus on, just because your body isn’t showing it doesn’t mean your mind isn’t thinking about it.
Did you know that 22 vets take their lives each day? Here’s an example the Wyoming National Guard gave me: Say your feelings are in an iceberg, what you can see on top may be baggy eyes from not sleeping, bad body language or bad hygiene. You don’t see what’s under the ice, under the ice there are all the feelings and emotions that are trapped and only you know what they are, only you can see them and feel them. Eventually, the ice will start to melt and more and more will begin to show.. Ever thought of tools to help or maybe even a battle buddy? A battle buddy can be there to prevent you when you most need it, say you’re having bad thoughts and you happen to have someone to call or someone to talk to so they can distract you. The longer your mind is taken away from the thought the more likely you are to not hurt yourself or others within that time period. Your mind gets different things to focus on and your brain moves to a different subject. Trauma, depression, and stress can be blind to you and especially to others.
Mission 22 provides support to veterans and their families. Mission 22 is a non-profit organization that involves outreach, events and programs for long-term healing, wealth and growth. Mission 22 helps veterans living with physical, mental and emotional trauma. The compact act will help with suicidal crisis, even if you are not within the VA. The VA will pay for therapy, transportation to a clinic or hospital or anything else within those needs. Go to the Mission 22 website or call one of the numbers I will give you in a minute!
I don’t want you guys to sit through the rest of this banquet and think to yourselves, “well why are you giving a speech about suicide awareness if we’re here for hunting?” Hunting with Hero’s gives people an amazing experience with safety, fun and laughter. All veterans matter and
hunting is a great way to learn new things, experience new things and do it with friends and family. Hunting with Heroes offers you opportunities no matter the situation you may be in.
There is always someone willing to help, and no one is ever alone. Someone in this world appreciates you and your life more than you know. Pay attention to the warning signs, and remember to always check on your friends or loved ones. If you or someone needs help call 1-800-273-8255 for the veterans crisis line. Call 988 for suicide and crisis lifeline. If you would like to talk to a veteran directly put a 1 in front of the 988 # and a veteran will assist you. You can call or text these numbers for help.
I want to give a big thank you to the Wyoming Primary Prevention workforce and the National Guard, the VA and my family and friends for helping me make all of this come together.”
Jaidyn let us know in an interview with her that her goals are to create spaces, platforms and voices for individuals who may be struggling. She is active on social media sharing content that inspires others. She also said she thinks its extremely important to treat everyone with love and respect because you don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors.
She plans to continue to help people long term the best that she can.
Copyright 2023 KGWN. All rights reserved.