Suicide prevention event aims to reach students, Craig community

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Bryce Mackie

The decision to host an event with a well-known suicide prevention speaker and his “very moving” documentary was an easy one for Ronna Autrey.

Autrey, the suicide prevention coordinator for Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide, said she wants to reach students and residents who may be depressed or having suicidal thoughts.

A great way to accomplish that goal is through Bryce Mackie’s documentary, “Eternal High,” Autrey said.

“It does get to the kids, it really does,” she said. “If it helps us identify one more kid that’s in a really bad place, then that’s a great thing.”

“Eternal High” is about a dark period in the life of Mackie, a native of the Chicago area, Autrey said.

Mackie’s documentary was made after he survived a suicide attempt in high school, and focuses on the period of his life when he was “severely depressed and didn’t know what was wrong,” Autrey said.

Mackie will give his presentation twice Dec. 2 in Craig — once for students and once for the public, Autrey said.

Mackie will make a presentation to Moffat County High School students from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Dec. 2 in the school’s auditorium. At 7 p.m., Mackie will host a similar presentation for the public.

Hayden High School will also play host to Mackie’s presentation for students and teachers from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Dec. 3.

The presentations are free.

Autrey said donations to REPS are welcome.

Autrey said Mackie, who is now pursuing film studies in college, will screen his documentary and then speak to the audience.

Mackie’s father will join him onstage during the public presentations Dec. 2, Autrey said.

His father brings a fitting presence to the presentation and makes its message that much more relevant for families, Autrey said.

“It is an excellent presentation for families to learn how this family dealt with their son’s depression,” she said. “And how they got him help and how he is doing so much better today and living a productive life.”

The documentary, Autrey said, has won numerous awards for its depiction of Mackie’s experiences with suicidal thoughts and depression.

“He talks about depression, taking medication, seeing a therapist and (how) all of that’s OK,” she said. “He talks about depression being a disease and makes the kids understand there is nothing to be ashamed of.

“This is a disease — something in your body isn’t functioning right.”

Autrey said Mackie gave several “awesome” presentations in the Steamboat Springs area last year, which prompted her to bring the speaker and his presentation to Craig and Hayden.

“Last year, because we had lost a … student the year before in Steamboat (Springs), it was very timely,” she said. “Of course, this year we have lost a student in Craig, so it is very timely that they hear what he has to say.”

Autrey said the presentation may resonate with students more considering Mackie is a student himself, “as opposed to an adult standing there telling them that.”

“The kids really listen to him,” she said. “In every (program) last year, we had kids come forward and say, ‘You know, I feel like that or my mom is like that.’”

But, Autrey encouraged all residents, not just students, to attend the presentation.

“I think (it will help them) to understand more about depression and mental illnesses and the fact that they are diseases just like cancer or diabetes,” she said.

Autrey is also pleased the presentation is being hosted around the holiday season, a time she said is “tough for a lot of people.”

Moreover, Autrey hopes to “do away with the stigma” surrounding depression and suicide, and raise awareness about mental illnesses.

And, bringing Mackie’s presentation to the area for residents to hear, Autrey contends, is a step toward that goal.

For more information about Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide, call Autrey at 846-8182.

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