The free event features mental health experts, celebrities, local teen stories and more
Suicide is the 8th leading cause of death in Nevada, according to the Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Nevada’s teen suicide rate is among the highest in the nation.
COVID-19’s impact has affected people of all ages, including teens. This has led to people feeling higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression.
Hope Means Nevada, a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating teen suicide, hosts the Rising Hope festival. This virtual event is on Saturday, November 6 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The statewide festival is FREE. The livestream will be recorded and available later on YouTube as a resource.
The theme this year is “Can Anyone See I’m Struggling? Teen Stories of Being Seen.” The virtual gathering welcomes any and all teens to come together in a safe space to listen, laugh, learn and tell their stories.
“Whether you know it or not, someone you know is dealing with mental health issues,” says Ciera Bellavance, executive director of Nevada Medical Center and Hope Means Nevada, a local non-profit initiative, “You never know if sharing information may be something they need.”
What is the Rising Hope Festival?
The fest aims to connect, educate and raise awareness of mental wellness practices for local teens, counselors, parents and caring adults through engaging videos explaining ways to safeguard their own mental health and that of their loved ones.
Videos submitted by teens will share recordings of creative performances such as dancing, singing, rapping or reciting poetry in hopes of it resonating with attendees.
“Most teens say peer to peer support is most important to them. They are each other’s biggest influences,” says Ciera.
The Rising Hope fest focuses on storytelling and personal accounts regarding mental health to strengthen support and teach the community about what resources are available to them.
“We are trying to bridge the gap between the resources we have and those who need them,” explains Ciera.
Anxiety, depression, bullying, sexual orientation and peer pressure are topics that will be covered.
Another issue making headlines, due to recent reports, are the negative effects social media has had on the youth. During the festival, a panel of experts will also discuss this growing concern.
Social Media’s Influence on Teens
Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, unveiled that the company’s researchers knew how harmful their social media platform, Instagram, has been affecting teenage girls.
NPR says a leaked study found that 17 percent of teen girls say their eating disorders got worse after Instagram use.
It’s hard to pinpoint a remedy to this issue because all teens are affected differently by it. “Some teens have to take breaks because it’s a false reality; it’s just a highlight reel,” says Ciera.
She says that one way to increase mental health awareness is to normalize talking about it in everyday conversations. This might make it easier for teens to open up about their internal struggles.
To spread mental health awareness and get the word out about this festival, Hope Means Nevada created a hashtag #ASK5 that encourages individuals to connect with their loved ones to see how they are truly feeling.
“One of our main goals is #Ask5. We challenge everyone to reach out and ask five people how they are really doing.”
More information will be provided on ways for people to apply daily mental wellness practices to help prevent suicide during the livestream.
Mental Wellness Practices
Deep breathing, journaling, meditating and reaching out for help if necessary are some of the ways health experts suggest to increase mental wellness, says Ciera. But she emphasizes how healthy and honest communication is the most important factor.
“The biggest thing is talking about it and reaching out for help and asking for resources,” she says.
Celebrities Gather to Show Support
Las Vegas Raiders, Darren Waller and Max Crosby will discuss sobriety and mental health.
Raiderettes, Mackenzie Vojvoda and Kristina Cullinane, will share their personal experiences and information about their philanthropic organizations relating to suicide prevention.
Retired San Francisco Giants Baseball player, Drew Robinson, is among the list of celebrities set to speak at the festival. He will speak about anxiety in sports. Robinson attempted to take his own life last year and now he wants to help people through sharing his story.
“How can I go through this and not find a way to try to help other people or impact other people’s lives?” Robinson told ESPN. “This was a sign. A huge, painful sign that I’m supposed to help people get through something that they don’t think is winnable.”
Additional celebrities and guest speakers include: Backstreet Boy Nick Carter; Solomon Thomas, LV Raider and co-founder of The Defensive Line, a non-profit working to end the epidemic of youth suicide; singer-songwriter, ChloA Watson; alternative rock band, Ray and Paul Holmberg; reggae artist, Pato Banton plus experts and leaders in the mental health field.
RSVP on Eventbrite to learn more about the Rising Hope festival.
If you are anyone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255, send a Crisis Text “HOME” to 741741 or reach out to NAMI Hotline 1-800-950-8264.