CHADS Coalition is a St. Louis-based organization with a mission to save young lives by advancing the awareness and prevention of depression and suicide.
The organization was founded by Marian and Larry McCord after losing their 18-year-old son, Chad, to suicide. Chad McCord was a high-school senior with a bright future, who also battled depression and died by suicide in 2004.
Before Chad’s death, he battled the stigma that so often prevents youth from reaching out to a trusted adult for help when needed. Chad vowed that when he got better he would make a difference in people’s lives by bringing mental illness out of the closet.
Like so many other parents, Marian and Larry sought treatment for Chad and fought alongside him, but felt alone in their struggle as youth depression and suicide were not well understood in the community – or even in the healthcare system.
When they discovered MindWise’s SOS Signs of Suicide in 2007, CHADS initiated a partnership. The decision was reinforced by Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, who further endorsed SOS as a strong, evidence-based program to bring into Missouri schools.
Over the years, CHADS has become a significant believer in SOS for its ability to reduce stigma and encourage students to seek treatment.
SOS Signs of Suicide
Colleen Pace, CHADS Program Director, states, “I love that SOS fits into one classroom period. Something that’s so impactful and empowering in such a short time is really hard to find.”
She adds how valuable it is to be able to tell schools “this is a program we know works, a program that’s going to educate your students… we’re talking to 100% of kids knowing that 80% are never going to have a mental health issue, but that those 80% can help the other 20%.”
“I love that SOS fits into one classroom period. Something that’s so impactful and empowering in such a short time is really hard to find.”
Colleen Pace, CHADS Program Director
How they Expanded the Reach of SOS
In 2010, CHADS secured funding from the St. Louis County Children’s Service Fund, a local tax-based initiative, which allowed them to continue increasing their reach. With schools referring to other schools, their growth continued at a steady pace. “As a mother who lost a child to suicide, I am so proud to be able to offer SOS to St. Louis schools” said CHADS Co-Founder, Marian McCord. “I believe in the program so much.”
Overall, CHADS use of SOS has resulted in the following outcomes: