BY MELISSA PITCHFORD
Special to the Tribune
On Dec. 3, 2012, 16 year-old Luke Maxwell took the family’s full-size van and crashed into an oncoming vehicle in an attempt to kill himself.
“I didn’t tell anyone what I was going through. Depression was destroying me,’ Maxwell said.
Maxwell travels from California across the country to spread awareness about mental health, depression and suicide awareness. His goal is to give communities an awareness of a topic usually pushed under the rug. Maxwell hopes to bring people together to help others.
With an audience of parents, educators and teens, Maxwell spoke of his story, warnings signs, and ways to heal. On Tuesday evening. Great Bend High School Auditorium wad so silent you could hear a pin drop. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as he spoke of not only his story, but the impact we can make by reaching out to others.
Mawell spoke to middle school and High school students on Wednesday and shared his ministry in Hoisington on Thursday.
Mawell’s message opened the eyes of parents and educators who realized that mental illness is real, and very common. One in four teens struggle with depression and one in 10 teens have suicidal thoughts. Everyone in the room may had either felt, or been touched by suicide. Each day the statistics climb and the only way to make a difference is to being the subject to light.
Maxwell’s family was shocked by his actions, he told the audience. He didn’t tell anyone he had suffered from depression for four years, and he thought suicide was the only option to end his pain.
“I thought no one valued me,” Maxwell said.
Arrested for assault with a deadly weapon for seriously hurting the other driver, Maxwell was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and started treatment.
“I was very sick. My mind made me believe everyone hated me,” Maxwell said. “As I got the help I needed, I realized how loved I was.”
As his recovery progressed, he founded a website and formed teen depression support groups.
“There is hope. You can’t be erased,” he said.
Now a 19-year-old college student, writer and national speaker, Maxwell has appeared on television, radio, and in newspapers to spread his message of hope and healing. He has spoken to thousands of high school and middle school students, parents and other adults.
“Be unashamed, break the stigma, reach out and tell your story,” he said.
Maxwell’s mission is to break the stigma of depression, bring awareness to the symptoms, give insight to parents and school administrators, and let teens know that this medical condition can be treated so hope can replace despair.
“Look on my page for signs of depression,” he said. “We shouldn’t be afraid to speak out about mental illness. Break the silence. Save a life.”
If someone feels or knows a person who feels suicidal, they should call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Barton County residents can call The Center For Counseling 1-620-792-2544 or after hours at 1-800-875-2544.
To learn more about Luke Maxwell and how to help visit ucantberased.com or email him at email@example.com. One can also find him on social media, to further follow and learn about more ways they can help others in their community.