Community Notebook: Mental Health Association organizes youth suicide prevention roundtable

Paly parent, youth to speak

The Mental Health Association of San Francisco is organizing a community roundtable on youth suicide prevention for this Thursday evening in Mountain View, featuring a panel discussion with mental health advocate and suicide survivor Kevin Hines, a Palo Alto High School parent and Bay Area high schoolers.

The event will focus on potential community solutions surrounding mental health and suicide prevention, said MHASF Director of Communication Maureen DeCoste. Panelists will highlight a new suicide-prevention and entrepreneurship program that the Mental Health Association is hoping to launch at Paly and Gunn High School.

Thursday's event, which is being hosted by Mountain View-based startup accelerator 500 Startups, will begin with an introduction from Sally Spencer-Thomas, founder of a suicide-prevention foundation (the Carson J. Spencer Foundation), and Eduargo Vega, executive director of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco.

Nicole Plata, the association's community-empowerment specialist, will next speak about The FIRE Within, a year-long, classroom-based youth empowerment program with two goals: one, working with high school teachers to create an environment where students feel comfortable speaking up about their emotions; and two, helping youth to design "a product that could be used in the community or to reach out to make people more aware of youth who are feeling vulnerable, suicidal," DeCoste said.

The program partners with local businesses whose employees serve as mentors to the students; 500 Startups was one of them, working with a group of students from Mission High School in San Francisco. The students spent a day at the company recently, pitching their product (T-Shirts and stickers with the message "You Are Not Alone") and learning what it's like to work at a startup.

The FIRE Within program is currently seeking funding to launch at Paly and Gunn.

A representative from 500 Startups and one of the high school students who participated will speak at Thursday's roundtable. There will be another youth speaker as well, DeCoste said.

Kevin Hines -- a well-known speaker on suicide and mental health and author of "Cracked, Not Broken: Surviving and Thriving After a Suicide Attempt" -- will also speak during a Q&A session from 6:40 to 7:15 p.m. Luba Botcheva, director of research and strategic projects for the Mental Health Association of San Francisco and a parent of a current Paly student, will also speak.


What: Youth suicide prevention roundtable

When: Thursday, April 2, 5:30-8 p.m.

Where: 500 Startups, 444 Castro St #1200, Mountain View

Cost: Free

Info: RSVP to by April 1. For more information, go to


5 people like this
Posted by Another dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 31, 2015 at 2:18 pm

Sorry, my kids won't have time to attend this suicide prevention seminar. They are too busy coping with the massive, overwhelming, and abusive stress that Gunn high schools dumps on them daily.

I won't have time to attend either. I am too busy fighting an endless battle with teachers and school administrators, trying to get them to back off so my kid don't go crazy.

Like this comment
Posted by Observation
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 31, 2015 at 6:46 pm

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