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How a Former Red Sox Pitcher Is Increasing Youth Mental Health Awareness

The Will To Live Foundation is an example of the powerful and positive changes that can emerge from a tragic situation. John Trautwein and his wife Susie founded the Will to Live Foundation after losing their 15-year-old son, Will, to suicide.

The nonprofit is now helping to not only heal, but to empower their Atlanta-area community and beyond. “The more students, and their parents, recognize mental health as an important component in their overall health, the more successful these kids will be both academically and in life,” says Trautwein.

Trautwein, a former pitcher with the Boston Red Sox, promotes athletics, music, clubs, and other team activities as an excellent opportunity for positive release for teens. Coaches can serve as a trusted adult as they teach students the importance of sharing all aspects of life, good and bad. These situations help teens learn to find love, support, and hope in their teammates and friends––all factors that can help reduce the risk of depression and suicide.

The Will to Live Foundation has been a long-standing partner with Screening for Mental Health, Inc. and our SOS Signs of Suicide Prevention Program. The organization funds the SOS program for all of Fulton County, Georgia schools which includes more than 93,000 students. They are now expanding their reach and funding the SOS program for schools in other states.

John Trautwein works hard to improve the lives and “Will To Live” of teenagers everywhere with his organization. He does this through motivation, consultation, charity, support and most importantly, according to Trautwein, through love and fellowship.

Since the organization’s inception, Trautwein has spoken more than 400 times to school groups, teams, churches, and coaches all over the country. The organization holds annual fundraising events, designed and implemented by the teens themselves to raise awareness.  These include an annual 5K Fun Run and the Willstock teen music festival where high school age bands entertain their friends. Through all of these events, Trautwein and his team emphasize the importance of talking about mental illness. Trautwein says, “Illnesses like depression and other anxieties are very common, treatable and curable and can affect anyone. The more we all talk about it, the more comfortable we will be – and this will go a long way to eliminating the stigma of mental health in America”

Screening for Mental Health is proud to partner with Will to Live as we work together to teach youth about the signs and symptoms of depression and suicidality. Learn more about Will to Live through their website.