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National Honoree

Jenna Machado

Colorado

Jenna Machado, 17, of Boulder, Colo., a senior at Fairview High School, founded a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about depression and suicide prevention after a cousin took her own life. As Jenna grieved and struggled to understand why her cousin died, she realized that she might be able to help prevent others from suffering similar tragedies. "I want people to understand that they can always get help if they are having thoughts about suicide or feeling depressed," she said. With help from her parents and a local attorney, Jenna wrote a business plan and applied to form a nonprofit organization. She began holding weekly meetings with 10 friends to share information about depression and suicide, learn about suicide prevention, and plan fund-raising activities. For one of their fund-raisers, they collected clothing donations at nine local schools and throughout the community and then held two clothing sales, which brought in $5,000 and provided 86 treatment sessions at local therapy centers for depressed and suicidal teens who could not afford counseling. The group also has delivered six community presentations on the warning signs and risk factors of depression and suicide, and conducted a peer education program in 24 classrooms at middle and high schools in Boulder County. "There is a lot of work to be done regarding depression and suicide prevention," said Jenna. "The only way we can overcome the stigma is to talk about it, understand it, address it, encourage treatment for depression, and show compassion for those who suffer."