Taking a closer look at kids’ mental health in Puyallup

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, The Puyallup Post is looking at how mental health and illness is represented in youth in Puyallup.



Samantha Allred


About 7.7 million children ages 6-17 struggle with ADHD, depression and anxiety, but only half of those children receive treatment according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Mental illness can have devastating effects on children as they mature. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, mental health conditions cause 50 percent of youth ages 14 and older to drop out of school.

Physical health is given much more precedence over mental and emotional health in modern society. If someone is physically sick, they know how to treat their bodies to get well again.

Emotional and mental illnesses like depression or anxiety are equally important, but some may not know what to do about them or even how to tell if they are suffering from them.

In fourth grade, Kevin Hines started hearing voices. They told him he was worthless.

Fighting an inner battle between wanting to die but also wanting others to help him with his pain, Hines attempted suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge in 2000.

He regretted his decision seconds after he jumped.

His spinal vertebrae was crushed and he broke an ankle. Hines only survived because a sea lion kept him above water long enough for a Coast Guard member to rescue him.

Hines is now a global public speaker and mental health advocate. He spoke at the Washington State Fairgrounds on April 17 about his own experiences with mental illness. Over 1,400 people signed up to attend the event at the Fairgrounds.

The Puyallup Police Department invited Hines to first speak with Puyallup high school students in order to bring awareness of the topic of mental health to youth in Washington.

PPD Chief Scott Engle said that students from Graham-Kapowsin, Rogers and Puyallup High Schools came up to Hines after he finished speaking, asking he and the police for help.

After encountering the suicide of a ninth grader in his own community, Engle advocated for something to be done about mental illness in Puyallup. He said community members were also reaching out to the police department asking for help.

He suggested the idea of having a strong public speaker like Hines address suicide in the Puyallup area.

While the PPD doesn’t keep statistics on the number of suicides in Puyallup, Engle said he doesn’t see many teen suicides but several times a week there is death by suicide of an adult.

Engle wants to bring hope to those struggling with mental illness and he also wants people with mental illnesses to ask for help.

He said the PPD is trying to stem the tide of the rising suicide rate by organizing a community coalition to address suicide in Puyallup.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in Washington among residents ages 15 -34. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that suicide rates have risen nationally by 35 percent since 2000.

Hines is aware of the negative impacts of mental illness if not treated. He devotes much of his life to raising awareness of the prevalence of mental illness and trying to remove the stigma attached to it.

A representative from Crisis Text Line speaks with The Post’s editor-in-chief Dawn Hammer at the Washington State Fairgrounds on April 17. Seo Kim photo.

For students struggling with mental health issues at Pierce, Faculty Counselor Jennifer Wright provides free counseling. She can be reached by calling 253-864-3115 or emailing JWright@pierce.ctc.edu.

Crisis Text Line offers free nationwide crisis counseling 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Text “home” to 741741 to be connected to a crisis counselor. More information at https://www.crisistextline.org/.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

Samantha Allred

Taking a closer look at kids’ mental health in Puyallup

by Samantha Allred time to read: 2 min