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Purpose Prize Fellow 2012
Laird works to reduce instances of teen suicide in Colorado by connecting at-risk youths to free, immediate treatment.
In 2002, Colorado family therapist Marjorie Laird learned that four teens at the high school next door to her church had committed suicide in just nine months of each other. Their deaths reflected a grim reality: Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Colorado youths. (Car crashes are the first.) And there are few mental health resources for low-income teens.
Laird co-founded Second Wind Fund to get kids with little or no insurance who are struggling with suicidal thoughts free treatment within 24 hours. Second Wind Fund pays for up to 12 therapy sessions for at-risk youths referred by trusted sources, such as school counselors, social workers, psychologists or clergy members.
“The intervention is direct, simple and fast,” says Laird. “This is exactly what is needed when a child’s life is in danger.”
In the last 10 years, Second Wind Fund has helped 3,000 kids through seven affiliates across the state. Not one teen referred to the program has been lost to suicide. In the next five years, Laird hopes to take Second Wind Fund to other states with high teen suicide rates, including New Mexico, Wisconsin, California, Texas, Michigan and North Carolina.
“We can’t absolutely stop suicide,” Laird says, “but we can remove two obstacles from ever getting in the way of a child having help: money and time.”