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Newberg student's senior project brings awareness to suicide prevention

"I want people to feel comfortable talking about it and sharing their stories about it, without feeling like it's something they have to hide," Mykayla Friday said.

NEWBERG, Ore. — Newberg High School senior Mykayla Friday wants to bring awareness to the topic of suicide prevention.

As part of her senior project, she's organizing a 5K run/walk on May 4 that will benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The topic of suicide is very personal to Friday.

"I lost my biological dad to suicide," she said.

RELATED: Salem parents offer advice after their teenagers died by suicide

Friday was 9 but said she never knew her dad. Years later another tragedy struck. This time someone she did know.

"My summer after my freshman year in high school, I lost a friend to suicide as well," Friday said.

The hurt didn't stop. A close family friend, her mom's childhood friend, died in 2015. 

"She was always around us. We went to a lot of places with her and she grew up with my mom. She was kind of like an aunt," Friday explained.

RELATED: Breaking the Silence: YouthLine serves as critical resource for teens in need

Then another tragedy hit close to home for the Friday family. 

"A neighbor close to my house died about a year ago from [suicide]," she said.

All of this happened within a matter of eight years of her young life. A life she once talked about taking. When Mykayla was in seventh grade, she wrote about taking her own life after being bullied by a friend. She sought the help of a school counselor.

RELATED: How Lincoln HS takes a direct approach to prevent teen suicide

She understands that very need to speak up. 

"I want people to feel comfortable talking about it and sharing their stories about it, without feeling like it's something they have to hide," Friday said. "I know from experience because I've talked to many people. I've talked to my neighbor who lost her husband. I was crying so bad. I think for the both of us it really helped to talk about it and to have a similar experience."

It's free to register for the 5K and all donations will benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. 

Credit: Mykayla Friday
Flier for Mykayla Friday's 5K walk/run raising money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention


The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 800-273-8255. The Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7 crisis support by text. Text 741741 to be connected to a trained counselor.

Help is available for community members struggling from a mental health crisis or suicidal thoughts. Suicide is preventable.

The Multnomah County Mental Health Call Center is available 24 hours a day at 503-988-4888.

If you or someone you know needs help with suicidal thoughts or is otherwise in an immediate mental health crisis, please visit Cascadia or call 503-963-2575. Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare has an urgent walk-in clinic, open from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., 7 days a week. Payment is not necessary.

Information about the Portland Police Bureau's Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) and additional resources can be found by visiting http://portlandoregon.gov/police/bhu

Breaking the Silence

Credit: KGW

This month, newsrooms across the state are highlighting the public health crisis of death by suicide. Our goal of “Breaking the Silence” is to not only put a spotlight on a problem that claimed the lives of more than 800 Oregonians last year, but also examine research into how prevention can and does work and offer our readers, listeners and viewers resources to help if they – or those they know – are in crisis.

Most of our work will be published and broadcast April 7-14. The participating media outlets are using a common set of data and have loosely coordinated their coverage in an effort to avoid duplication and better amplify all of our work. When possible, we will promote each other’s stories, but all of them can be found on breakingthesilenceor.com 

Watch: Breaking the Silence coverage

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