It Starts with You(th): Teens Help Their Peers Prevent Suicide in Seattle Public Schools

For the past year and a half, the Public Health School-Based Partnerships team has supported a youth-led peer-to-peer suicide prevention program in partnership with the City of Seattle. Growing from a group of six youth in summer 2017, the 2018 summer program welcomed eight Youth Organizers for Mental Health Education (YOMHEs). The YOMHEs worked tirelessly this summer creating content to educate and support their peers in issues of mental health.

Over the course of six weeks, the team of high school students built expertise in trauma, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and suicide prevention. They participated in workshops on mental health, filmed a video on suicide prevention to present to their peers, drafted a resource magazine on trauma, and hosted a Lunch & Learn for Public Health employees about their experiences.

Over the 2018-19 school year, they plan to lead workshops and act as peer educators in Seattle schools and their surrounding communities. Through this messaging, they hope to help build suicide prevention skills amongst their peers and normalize conversations about mental health.

As students of Franklin, Cleveland, Nathan Hale, and Garfield High Schools, the YOMHEs represent the diverse landscape of the city. Meet these incredible young leaders!


  • Messiah is a returning YOMHE who is known for his deep voice and passion for boxing.
  • Rose is a new YOMHE who loves astrology and wants to go to medical school.
  • Jazz is a new YOMHE who is an accomplished poet and can often be found making music.
  • Melrose is a new YOMHE who contributes fantastic art skills to the work and is helping organize the YOMHEs’ mental health open mic this spring.
  • Teddy is a returning YOMHE and talented musician who can often be seen performing around Seattle.
  • Gustavo is a returning YOMHE who brings a wonderful sense of humor, leadership skills, and strong public speaking acumen to the group.
  • Sarah is a new YOMHE who balances her time with the project with being on her school’s ASB and volleyball team.
  • Marcel is a new YOMHE who traveled around France this summer and also balances his school year work with football practice.

The YOMHEs are always looking for a chance to share their resources regarding mental health. If you would like to know more or would like to schedule a presentation at your school, please visit their website or email

A huge thank you to these wonderful YOMHEs and congratulations to them on such a successful summer! 

Many thanks, as well, to the City of Seattle’s Department of Education and Early Learning, Human Services Department, and Parks and Recreation for supporting the ongoing work of these incredible young people.

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