“I feel like I’m successful with more things. I’m more happy. I see things in a good way, not a bad way.
I went from I can’t to I can.”
Iliana Thompson – Integrated Services Participant
Researchers connect a higher rate of suicide with poverty. Stressors often include an inability to meet basic needs, repay debts and make plans for the future.
During the 2020 pandemic, thousands of Milwaukee County families became unstable. And in many cases, it hurt children the most.
This is Iliana’s story.
Iliana Thompson is a teenager who struggled with depression.
That alone is tough. But then the pandemic hit.
The depression coupled with isolation became too much to bear.
Unfortunately, for some, suicide is considered as a solution that can stop the pain. At least that’s what Iliana thought.
The 16-year-old considered taking her own life.
Talking with her parents was out. Like many teens, Iliana felt they didn’t understand.
Iliana was lonely and things got worse.
Family issues disrupted school.
The school reported Iliana as truant.
Iliana could have easily slipped away.
Instead, the court ordered community service work.
It also introduced Iliana to a neighborhood program supported by the Social Development Foundation.
This program changed Iliana’s life.
Funding from the Social Development Foundation allowed Iliana to connect with a state-licensed therapist and then later, a local youth group she now helps lead.
The Social Development Foundation is expanding the reach of free programs that help young people regardless of a family’s ability to pay for service.
Iliana found caring, professional staff that broke through her tough exterior. With a counselor, Iliana could begin to address the pain she kept locked inside.
Today, Iliana is thriving.
As a fierce advocate for mental health and a role model for other teens, she’s leading community-based initiatives that encourage more teens to ask for help.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth and young adults.
We believe that a lack of money should never be a barrier that stops young people from getting the help they need.
After all, no one ever said the teenage years would be easy.