The loss of a friend to suicide compels Brittanee Hustad into action.
Brittanee Hustad knows that courage isn’t always simply overcoming fear.
“Sometimes courage means having the gumption to stand up for what you believe in and fight hard for someone who can’t fight for themselves. It’s looking past road blocks and taking your sadness and grief and not letting it break you, but letting it lift you up and make something better and full of hope,” Brittanee says. She will be one of the Girl Scouts honored at the Women and Young Women of Distinction luncheon in November.
A junior at Shadow Mountain high school, Brittanee has found the courage to help those who are unable to help themselves.
Brittanee says her sixteenth birthday, in February 2014, was the worst day of her life. The phone call she received with the news of her best friend’s suicide changed her life forever. What followed was profound grief and obsessive wondering if she had done everything she could to help her friend.
“At some point during my sadness, I realized that I needed to be courageous and strong for myself if I was ever going to get over his death.”
From this tragedy, came Brittanee’s idea for her Girl Scout Gold Award service project, “Stifle the Silence.” Her focus is not only to raise awareness about teen suicide, but also on how to recognize warning signs, and how to help those affected by suicide find hope.
Brittanee is organizing a day for the community to come together and learn ways to heal from the aftermath of suicide through art and music. Scheduled for September 2015, several artists, musicians and mental health specialists will be on hand at the event to share messages of hope and remembrance, and provide healing support. She has also written Governor Jan Brewer to ask that Arizona join with other states to recognize September 10 as Suicide Awareness Day.
“If my efforts prevent one teenager from taking their own life or helps one teen or parent to see a warning sign, I will be more than happy.”
To learn more about the Women and Young Women of Distinction luncheon, or how you can support girls like Brittanee, visit http://girlscoutsaz.org/wywd.