Twenty years after its inception, friends and supporters of The Jason Foundation gathered Tuesday to celebrate the impact the non-profit organization has had on youth suicide prevention and awareness.
Founded by Clark Flatt in 1997 following the death of his 16-year-old son Jason, the organization is dedicated to the prevention of youth suicide through educational awareness programs for young people, educators and parents. Its programs are used in all 50 states and several foreign countries.
"When the Jason Foundation began, there were not many organizations committed to fighting the tragedy of youth suicide," said Flatt. "We are proud to be on the forefront of combating the 'silent epidemic' that is youth suicide in our nation. Our longevity is a direct result of the support and passion that we have received from the many individuals and organizations that believe in our mission."
An early and high-profile supporter was also on-hand Tuesday - former University of Tennessee Head Coach Phillip Fulmer.
Flatt said he still remembers asking the foundation's Teen Board in 1998 who should be the organization's celebrity spokesperson. Fulmer, who is best known for coaching the Volunteers to a national championship win in 1998, was the resounding choice, Flatt remembers. And, although the two had never met, Fulmer quickly agreed.
"He's just been a great, great supporter," Flatt added.
Among The Jason Foundation's accomplishments over the last two decades is the passage in 19 states of The Jason Flatt Act, legislation that requires school personnel to receive training in youth suicide awareness and prevention.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24. It is also one of the leading causes of preventable death. Four out of five young people who attempt suicide exhibit clear warning signs. To learn what the warning signs are, or to learn more about the Jason Foundation go to jasonfoundation.com.