Suicide rates among students and youth in Orange County continue to rise. In fact, since the late 1990s, we've had the largest suicide rate increase among the nation’s 20 most-populous counties.
"[Suicide] is a public health crisis," says Brian McInerney, a 23-year-old UCLA student from San Juan Capistrano and the founder of Green Ribbon Club, a student-led non-profit that focuses on suicide prevention.
After losing two friends (both brothers) to suicide, McInerney became determined to start the Green Ribbon Club (green ribbons represent mental health awareness) to advocate against suicide in the name of his fallen friends. He believes the lack of publicity on suicides in Orange County and the lack of youthful representation specifically in South Orange County adds to a disconnect about mental health issues plaguing younger generations in the area.
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To McInerney, preventing suicides start with destigmatizing mental illness. "It's okay to not be okay," he says. "There's a stigma surrounding mental illness and when there's a stigma surrounding something it prevents people from seeking resources, [thus] suicides increase."
After attending city council meetings to bring awareness to the high rates of suicides in Orange County and seeing no concrete response, McInerney and Green Ribbon Club members have decided to voice their concerns in a peaceful way by organizing demonstrations throughout South Orange County tomorrow. Five demonstrations will take place in Ladera Ranch, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Beach, and Dana Point, all cities and areas many Green Ribbon Club members reside in. Anyone is welcome to join.
"It's not a political thing," McInerney adds. "Nowadays, everybody is trying to make this either pro-Republican or pro-Democratic or conservative or liberal when public health and public safety is
For more information on how to join the Green Ribbon Club visit www.GreenRibbonClub.org