#IAmWithYou campaign focusing on youth suicide launched at the UN

Research based initiative aims to draw world attention towards rising youth suicide rates.

Youth is often equated with life, vitality and a drive to change the world, but beneath the surface, there is an alternate reality – that of rising dejection leading to depression.

A unique campaign called ‘#IAmWithYou’ focusing on this often-overlooked reality was launched at the UN Headquarters in New York on Feb 24.

A researched-based campaign focusing on depression and suicide among youth, the new initiative aims to draw world attention towards youth suicide rates.

According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report 62,000 people between the age of 10-19 years of age took their life in 2016.

The worrying statistics prove that there is an immediate need to intervene and create awareness about the silent stress that may be killing young adults.

The Chair of the Master Plan Core Committee and founder of the campaign, Christo Thomas said in his introductory note: “This campaign is focusing on solutions to curb this severe and painful issue.”

Talking about why he thought it was important to launch this campaign Christo said: “I come from a political family and was engaged in campus activities. The idea could have been to do with the political and social activism of my parents.”

“I had this idea since 2013 when I moved to New York City, but kept aside as it wasn’t worth time then, as I had no connection. ”

“The idea started brewing again since 2015 with founding my student advocacy organization – Collegiate Congress Inc,” Christo said.

“Nothing comes easy and had to be built,” he said. “Mid 2018 as I was drafting the Resolution for the United Nations International Day of Education, was the start of the drafting of this initiative.”

The panel for the campaign comprises Chair of the Master Plan Advisory Board and Permanent Representatives of Botswana and Grenada to the UN, Collin V.Kelapile and Keisha McGuier respectively and Dr. Nata Manabde, Executive Director of World Health Organization.

As the Moderator of the high-level panel, Collen expressed his excitement to chair the Advisory Board of this unique youth consortium – The Master Plan.

Manabde was very vocal about the severity of the issue and emphasized the data and steps to be taken.

“Depression and youth taking their lives is a severe issue globally and it adds to as the third leading cause of death in adolescents,” she stated.

The #IAmWithYou campaign started its deliberations from March from The Master Plan’s Sao Paulo, Brazil office.

The campaign has already got the support of 11 countries’ permanent representatives to the  UN — Botswana, Grenada, Norway, Afghanistan, Costa Rica, Morocco, Palau, Dominica, Portugal, Lithuania, and The Gambia.

The panel also had academics and advisors talking about depression and mental health and why it is urgent to address these issues.

The Master Plan envisions to be the largest and only youth leaders’ consortium as it comprises heads of national student unions, national youth political organizations, and the youngest parliamentarians.

#IAmWithYou campaign messages will be disseminated through social media, while also stressing that connections found online have proven insufficient for a happy life; it is simply not enough to connect online.

Rather, #IAmWithYou encourages fulfilling real-life connections among young people, teachers, and parents.

The young and depressed need to know that they are loved and are not alone in their struggles. They need to hear from all of us who can help: “#IAmWithYou”.

The main focus of the campaign now is on students, as their preliminary study found that the majority of youth who took their lives and are depressed are students.

The Master Plan’s #IAmWithYou campaign requests everyone to back it by expressing their support, friendship, and sharing one’s issues with each other.

Details of the campaign can be found on their common social media name @TheMasterPlanUN.


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