During the first week of April, we spoke with a seventh-grade student in Gorham who had lost her best friend to suicide. On April 9, we read about the suicide of another teenager, this time in Scarborough. A few weeks before that there was one in Westbrook, and a month ago, in Yarmouth. Before that it was Waynflete, Greely, Falmouth, Dexter, Bangor, Camden, Van Buren and far too many other communities.

It is stigma and shame that far too often keep people from getting the help that they need. Talking about mental illness does not make someone mentally ill – it makes someone feel less alone. It normalizes the conversation.

We need to be proactive in addressing mental illness in the same way that we address any physical health crisis.

In the two years since we founded The Yellow Tulip Project, we have been inspired by the groundswell of young people across the state who are done being silent.

They have seen far too many of their classmates take their own lives or struggle silently with their own mental illness and are mobilizing to have those hard and honest conversations.

They are proactive. They don’t want to keep reacting to the next crisis; they want to get trained now in how to recognize the signs and ensure that help-line magnets are in their school bathrooms. They are building a community that brings awareness, hope and help lines to their schools so that no one suffers alone.

Together we can move mountains on this issue so that suicide should never be an option.

Suzanne Fox and Julia Hansen

The Yellow Tulip Project

Falmouth