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Local mother working to bring awareness to youth mental health

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Last year, CBS 58 introduced you to the parents of Jack Kujawa, a Marquette University High School student who took his own life. 

Now, his mother is taking action in order to help other families and teens suffering from depression and mental illness. 

Patty Kujawa and other advocates for mental health care came to Madison to help erase the stigma around the topic of mental health and speak with lawmakers about taking concrete steps to help young people in Wisconsin. 

Kujawa joined leaders and young people from the Waukesha chapter of NAMI or the National Alliance of Mental Illness for Action on the square, an all-day event for raising awareness about mental health issues and discussing legislation to address the topic. 

Her son Jack took his own life six months ago, but Kujawa says that she draws from her sons legacy of helping others to advocate for policies that can help young people that suffer from mental illness and thoughts of suicide. 

"Jack had a saying that he wanted to change the world one heart at a time, so that's really the source of my motivation. And there's so many kids that are hurting out there today and it's important for us as parents to let our kids know that they're loved, that they're here on this Earth for a reason and we can talk about these things because it is an illness, it's not something we should ignore," Patty Kujawa said. 

A Suicide Prevention Specialist with Mental Health of America Wisconsin  gives these 5 steps to help someone who may be struggling with suicide:

1.) Ask directly: are you thinking about suicide?
2.) Keep them safe. Ask about the actual plan, means, and timeframe.
3.) Be there. Listen. Stay out of judgment.
4.) Help connect to resources.
5.) Follow up.

If you or someone you know needs mental health assistance, you can visit http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or call the lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 


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