Since Denette and Jim Stetler lost their son, Trent, to suicide four years ago, they have embarked on a mission to teach as many kids as possible about opening up to sadness, writes Maria Panaritis for Philly.com.
The Havertown couple hope that by reaching out they can help others avoid the path that led their son, a onetime lacrosse team captain at Haverford High School, to take his own life at age 20.
Through fund-raisers in Trent’s name, the Stetlers have brought speaker sessions about youth anxiety into Haverford Township schools, the library and the Haverford YMCA in the hope of starting a dialogue between kids and parents.
“Mental health issues know no boundaries. They’re everywhere,” Jim said in a 2015 interview.
The speakers discuss danger signs and tell students that mental illness is nothing to hide. A single speaker last year appeared before about 900 juniors and seniors and inspired 50 students to contact school guidance counselors.
“Of the more than 400 talks I’ve given, those sessions were probably among the top 10 [in] response from students,” said Andrew Onimus, of the mental-health advocacy group Minding Your Business.
Read more about the Stetlers’ work here.