DENVER, LANCASTER CO.-- It's no secret depression has become increasingly common in teenagers.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, in 2017, 29% of high school-aged students in PA reported feeling sad or hopeless for 2 or more weeks in a row, to the point where they even stopped doing the things they loved.
During the survey, 7% even admitted they had attempted suicide at least once.
Cocalico High School in Lancaster County has been fighting the growing epidemic for years, by pushing their nationally recognized non-profit organization that empowers young adults to shatter the stigma around depression, suicide, and other issues facing teens.
Its name is Aevidum.
The word, originated from the latin root 'vid' meaning life, now serves as an expression of assurance that "I've got your back."
Students at Cocalico are living by the expression, and hoping to continue a mission that was created for them in 2003.
"It started because we had a student named Philip Cardin who died by suicide when he was in 9th grade." said Paula Fleming, the Aevidum Club Advisor at Cocalico. Fleming also serves as one of the school district's social workers. "We had another student who had a father who also died by suicide, so she went to our administration and said we need to talk about this, we need to bring it out in the open." she continued speaking on the creation of the club.
Fleming says she's seen things change in the school halls since the club started.
"I remember one time we had gone to a local high school and did an assembly about you know; we have your back, depression is... people need to bring out in the open. And we had a girl come up to us afterwards with a bottle of pills and say 'I was going to take these until this assembly today, and I feel like you saved my life.' So, I've seen Aevidum actually be able to save lives." Fleming said about the impact the club has had on the South Central Pennsylvania community.
"We just want to show that it [depression] is real. People talk about it, but they don't," says Maggie Marks, a junior at Cocalico High School. Marks is also a member of the Aevidum club. "If they haven't experienced it, then they don't exactly know what it's about."
If you're able to spot the signs of depression, that alone, can help someone in more ways than you think.
Signs of depression include: mood swings, apathy, agitation, excessive hunger/loss of appetite, lack of concentration, suicidal thoughts, hopelessness.
Aevidum has now expanded to over 150 clubs across Elementary, Middle, and High Schools, as well as Colleges & Universities.
If you are feeling alone and need someone to lean on remember nothing lasts forever.
"My dad always says you can live with something for a short amount of time, which has really helped me look ahead," Marks says.
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts, talk.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255(TALK), and is available 24/7.
The Suicide Prevention Textline is 741-741, and an online chat is also available.
Prevent Suicide Pennsylvania also offers multiple mental health resources for those suffering from depression & suicidal thoughts.