HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - According to national statistics, more than 2,000 children and teens will die of suicide every year.
"There wasn't a lot of people paying attention to me when I was younger because I seemed to be doing really well," said 20-year old Claire Macena, who attempted suicide at the age of 17.
Macena was already in college when most kids were still in high school, and she said the stress of that achievement pushed her over the edge.
"It culminated during my second year in college when I was 16, and I finally had the final straw that broke the camel's back," she said.
The shame of getting a failing grade in one class left Macena feeling death was the only answer as she stepped in front of a moving train.
"At the time I was like, 'Oh, this is a train; it's going to hurt for a little bit, but then it's not going to hurt anymore. But it hurt for a long time," Macena said.
She survived but lost her leg and found herself struggling to recover both physically and psychologically.
"Many children and adolescents will come to us and are just happy to be heard and supported," said Dr. David Rube, medical director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, which is part of the Memorial Healthcare System.
Rube said greater awareness, assessment and treatment are helping kids like Macena.
"Our goal is to have a child get back to where they should be in terms of their level of functioning," he said.
Sheena Trivedi Patni and her husband, Prateek Patni, recently donated nearly $200,000 to the Joe DiMaggio Children's Foundation with a sizable portion of the funds earmarked for programs to address pediatric mental health and suicide.
"This meant a lot to me, teaching and helping young kids learn how to cope with different things as well as educating their families and parents," said Sheena Trivedi Patni, who herself struggled with mental health issues at a young age.
"We want to set up a program where kids can openly and freely talk. Maybe the families aren't going to understand it, but if the kid can have an outlet, I think right there, it's a win," said Prateek Patni.
Macena said support from organizations like the Trivedi Family Foundation and Patni Family will provide much-needed help for children in crisis.
"I have a really supportive community and that makes things so much easier," Macena said.
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