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State Honoree

Molly Runner

Bridgeport, West Virginia

Molly Runner, 18, of Bridgeport, West Virginia, a senior at Bridgeport High School, helped to organize a suicide prevention club and program at her school, and to develop a free after-school mental health support group for teenagers. Molly’s first experience with suicide occurred when her uncle took his own life in 2014. Mindful of the challenges of mental health issues like depression and anxiety, she was determined to find a way to help. After sharing her thoughts with her closest friends, they obtained permission to form their school’s first suicide prevention club.

As a club leader, Molly sought training to learn as much as possible about suicide prevention, and interviewed students and conducted research to set the club’s agenda. In weekly club meetings, she leads discussions on topics such as anxiety, depression, grief, stress, resilience and local agencies that offer support. In addition, the club partnered with a local mental health professional to develop a free after-school group counseling program for teens, and provides a safe space for LGBTQ+ and other youth dealing with difficult issues. Molly also was the key organizer of West Virginia’s first mental health fair, involving more than 100 agencies and vendors from across the state. “It is difficult to describe what it feels like to save a life,” said Molly. “This organization has allowed me to experience that on a regular basis.”