"Anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation; suicides are higher than they've ever been." - Kate Fagan addresses the crowd at the PAC.
NEW PHILADELPHIA (TuscoTV) - The Tuscarawas Area Counselors Association (TACA) hosted it's annual Teen Mental Health Night, Tuesday evening at the Performing Arts Center at Kent State University Tuscarawas. The event was headlined by an address and Q&A with Kate Fagan, author of, What Made Maddy Run.
Former TACA president Michelle Grimm says Fagan first came to their attention when various local counselors and students found her influential book on teen suicide, and Grimm thanks the community for taking a similar interest.
"Your investment in the youth of Tuscarawas County is evident by your attendance here tonight. Whether you're a parent, an educator, a coach, a mental health provider, a community member, or a concerned citizen, we all have something to learn from Maddy's story," says Grimm.
What Made Maddy Run is the story of former college student Maddy Holleran who, amidst rising anxiety and depression with university and Ivy League sports, died after falling from the roof of a parking garage. But Fagan says what really inspired her to write the book was the overwhelming response she received from similar teens.
"In the aftermath of this coming out... I got something like 200 emails in my inbox, almost all of them from high school and college students," Fagan says, "The thing I kept hearing, again and again, is, 'I see myself in Maddy.'"
Fagan says anxiety, depression, suicidal ideology, and suicide are at an all-time high, but mental health is only part of the problem, citing technological detachment due to social media and destructive perfection such as 'workism.'
"The concept of workism simply is that somehow in the last 25 years in our culture, we've started to treat success and work as a religion."
The pressure of this destructive perfectionism, as well as the anxiety of creating mass-consumption identities for the new world of social media in which we live, are all contributing factors to physical and mental health, Fagan says.
"And so I share that with you at the outset of tonight because I don't want your expectation to be sitting out there thinking that I can tell you that one thing. And then, you can write it down and be comforted and go home." Fagan says.
Fagan's address was followed by a question and answer period with local community members, educators, and students. Says Grimm, the interaction and communication brought on by the book is key to the ongoing fight for well-being.
“This is truly an example of one community coming together to save the life of one. Together we can erase the stigma surrounding mental health.”
Kate Fagan is a columnist and feature writer for espnW, ESPN.com, and ESPN The Magazine, and is a regular panelist on Around the Horn. She is the author of a memoir, The Reappearing Act, and co-host of the espnW podcast, Free Cookies. She lives in Charleston, SC, with her wife and two dogs.
For more information about Kate Fagan, visit bykatefagan.com. For more information about TACA, contact president Lindsey Tidrick at 330-878-5571. And for more information on events at the PAC, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
** Also as part of the event, local counseling, outreach, and healthcare professionals were on-site to speak with members of the community and share resources. Stay tuned for our coverage of that later. **