ODESSA, Texas (Nexstar)-The CDC says suicide is the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States.
Mental Health advocate Jared Scott Salas said learning about mental health and its importance saved his life.
“I was just an emotionally angry kid that did not know how to manage his mind. Did not know how to manage his emotions, and I was not tough that at school, I was not tough that at home, my mom was not taught that at school,” Salas said.
Salas first understood the importance of mental health after he lived through a suicide epidemic that took one of his close friends when he was only 16.
Salas said it seemed like no one wanted to talk about what the community was going through.
“Like you would think that this would be all over the news and everyone would be talking that it but it just was not.”
To help him with his grief Salas decided to make a song about his friend and he performed it at his friend’s school.
“I asked them if I could rap the song and they said yea.. you know cool that’s awesome but, do not talk about suicide,” Salas said.
Salas knew he had to do something to help people understand that mental health is important.
“She was the one that would greet you at the door with a smile. Nobody knew she was hurting on the inside. So no one knew to ask,” Salas said.
From that day forward Salas decide to make his voice count.
He said, “I just became the one that was going to ask first, the one that was going to stand up and speak out… the shy kid.”
Today Salas advocates for mental health awareness and teaches adults and kids the importance of mental health.
” Could you imagine if a school shut down the athletic program and said ‘No more football?’ There would be riots in the street in Midland Texas, there would be. So could you imagine a world where we cared about mental health like that,” Salas said.
His non-profit Free to Speak Foundation helps underfunded communities learn about mental health.
“What I say to kids is people don’t believe in what they can’t see, that requires faith not everybody has that. So the way that you make them see it is you tell them…you are going to have to tell people how you feel,” Salas said.
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