Daron’s dad talks about DIFD
On November 13, 2010, 14-year-old Daron Richardson died by suicide. From this tragedy came a movement to transform youth mental health. Spearheaded by Daron’s parents Luke and Stephanie Richardson, who decided to transform their very private pain into a public call-to-action, a decision was made to support young people who suffer in silence from the pain and stigma of mental illness. Supported by the energy and efforts of dozens of Daron’s close friends and classmates, a grassroots movement was formed with the mission of creating awareness, inspiring conversations, and transforming youth mental health.
Do It For Daron (DIFD) encourages young people to talk openly about mental illness and to ask for help when needed. DIFD provides young people, their parents, teachers, coaches and other adult role models with the resources, outlets and, most importantly, courage to overcome the shame and fear of discussing mental illness. The purple DIFD heart, a creation inspired by Daron’s favourite colour, has become the youth-driven symbol of this movement. It is a visual reminder that only love and awareness, not hiding in the shadows, can combat youth mental illness.
What they're saying
DIFD has already inspired hundreds of youth and started a conversation about youth mental illness larger than the Richardson’s could ever have imagined.
"I wish I could have been there for you when you really needed someone. "
Emily Groper, one of Daron's best friends.
"If you're feeling funny or feeling sad, we can talk about that. That's what DIFD has done: It has really brought it mainstream and that it's OK to talk about it. I didn't understand how this could happen to an amazing young girl. Nobody ever would have asked someone like Daron if she was OK."
"They've tried to take the road maybe less travelled and do something that others haven't done before them and try to raise the awareness of some of the issues that go along with teen suicide."
Cyril Leeder, President, Ottawa Senators.
The Richardsons are a very close family; they often talked with their kids about difficult issues like sex, drugs, bullying and the Internet. However, one conversation they never had before that fateful day was about suicide.
Many are unaware of the shocking statistics around youth mental health.
- 1 in 5 Canadian youth suffer from mental illness
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people between ages 15 and 24
- Over 200 youth take their own lives in Canada every year
(Source Canadian Mental Health Association)
How We're Helping
How You Can Help
DIFD created a dialogue that was missing in the community, one that is bringing hope and inspiration to thousands of youth. The movement has also raised thousands of dollars that are going to support youth mental health research and education led by The Royal.
Some of what we’re working on:
Inspired by the courage of the Richardson family, Daron’s family and friends gathered to created DIFD, but challenging the stigma of youth mental illness needs your support.
Here’s how you can help:
- Youth Mental Health Awareness Study and Early Intervention Research Project: Studying how best to teach mental health awareness in schools
- Is it Just Me?: An educational program that teaches high school students about mental health and the inner workings of the brain
- Resilient & Ready: A luncheon conversation for parents to learn more about how to talk to their kids about mental health
Do you need urgent help with a mental health issue? We’re here for you, please visit our Emergency Contacts page to get the help you need.
If you’re just looking to learn more, visit our resources section to learn about youth mental illness.
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