by Lexi Matthews ‘18
County Executive Ike Leggett launched the public awareness campaign “BTheOne” this October in partnership with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, MCPS, and local mental health organizations EveryMind and Family Services, Inc. The campaign, which aims to “reach teens in the community with important messages about preventing suicide and drug abuse,” kicked off with the circulation of ads at bus stations and inside schools across the county, as well as the commencement of a corresponding webpage.
Both promote a five step system for a person to ‘BTheOne’ to make a difference in the life of someone considering self harming or abusing drugs by asking them if they need help, keeping them safe, being there for them, helping them connect with a support system, and following up on their progress. The website notes that its fight was inspired by the CDC findings that from 2007 to 2015, suicide rates doubled among teen girls and by more than 30 percent among teen boys.
Other inspirations for the campaign include 19 year-old August Balderson of Gaithersburg, currently recovering from substance abuse, and Evan Rosenstock, a Churchill student who took his own life in 2013. Balderson and Susan Rosenstock, Evan’s mother, both play instrumental roles in running the program. While the group still exists in its developmental stages, they plan to expand to giving speeches and assemblies in the near future.