Teen who attempted suicide now works to save lives, says silence is the problem

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for teenagers in the U.S.

SAN ANTONIO – Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for teenagers in the U.S., according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Teens and young adults affected by suicide are using Suicide Awareness Week, Sept. 9-15, to draw attention to the severity of the problem.

Mental health issues run in 18-year-old Jacy Hornsby's family.

"It impacted me most when my dad came back from prison. He was very abusive, drugs, involved in a gang. When I was in seventh grade, my mom tried to kill herself, and I was the one who found her," Hornsby said.

Hornsby later attempted suicide herself.

"My mom kind of pushed me into going to counseling, and it really saved my life," she said.

Her mother's understanding led her to resources many youths don't access.

"Parents just say, 'Oh you should get over it,' or 'You're being dramatic because you're a teenager.' But it's not. People need to know where to get help, and because nobody wants to talk about it, parents don't know how to get help," Hornsby said.

Hornsby​​​​​​​ said silence is the problem, so she's breaking it.

"You shouldn't be ashamed. I'm not ashamed of what I went through," she said.

She's now starting college to become a mental health counselor, and she's on the Teen Advisory Board of the Alamo Area Teen Suicide Prevention Coalition. She said teens would rather talk to each other than adults, so youths are the people who need education.

"We need to teach kids to be able to recognize that in their friends, recognize the personality changes and be able to give them the tools to help each other," Hornsby​​​​​​​ said.

The tools may have helped someone like Tim Snider, who took his life in 2011, just days after his 16th birthday.

"He was very outgoing, always had a smile on his face. A person like that doesn't commit suicide, but he did commit suicide," his older brother, Sam Snider, said.

Sam Snider spends his time showing people ways to help youths who are hurting.

"Just (use) coping skills. If the year is too much, then you break it down to the week, and if the week's too much, you break it down to the day," he said.

Sam Snider helps facilitate the Survivors of Loved Ones' Suicides support group and shares his brother's story every chance he gets.

"Being able to open up and trust the people who are right next to you are going to be able to relate with you and empathize with you and not just say, 'I'm sorry you're feeling that way,'" he said.

If you or someone you know needs help, there are resources all over the region.

Click here for a list of those resources.

The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

To find out more about the local chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, click here.

About the Author:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.