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Redmond parents hope video averts more suicides


Travis and Erika Holmes lost their 16-year-old son, Hunter, last year when he committed suicide. Now, they’re trying to honor his legacy through a video titled “Your Life Matters.”

“What are the odds that there’s not another person suffering in silence like our child was. I guarantee it’s very high,” Travis Holmes said Wednesday. “Our goal is to make sure that these guys (students) are all aware that that is just a moment in your time that will pass.”

The video already has more than a million views on social media

It shows Redmond students and teachers going through their day-to-day lives, with captions beside them, showing their private struggles.

Hunter went to Redmond High School, which is where his parents were hoping to show the video, but they’ve hit a road block.

The Redmond School District chose not to show the video in classrooms. Officials gave NewsChannel 21 a statement explaining why.

It reads:

“Our district offers rich emotional health and wellness curriculum throughout all levels and uses commercially-produced content, including video, for teaching and learning. As this video was not included in our adopted curriculum, it is not being used in our classrooms.”

Crook County High School staff, however, did share the video with their students.

“Teen mental illness or mental issues are such a prevalent issue that kind of goes unspoken,” Assistant Principal Joel Hoff said. “We used this video as catalyst and kind of launching poin,t to let our kids know they’re not alone. Everyone’s taking on some battle. Here at Crook County High and in our district, we’re here for support.”

Several people reached out to NewsChannel 21 with concerns the video does not practice a safe suicide prevention approach. But none of them would go on camera.

Travis Holmes said, “It’s a topic that’s controversial already, because a lot of people do not want to talk about it.”

One area expert who did agree to talk supports the video.

“I was very, very impressed,” said Rick Treleaven with Best Care Treatment Services in Redmond.

Treleaven said teenagers often feel overwhelmed with the struggles they face. but as they grow older, they learn it’s normal to feel badly sometimes, and those struggles will pass. He said the video helps drive that point home, showing teens they’re not alone.

“With that, more people will survive, and more people will get past these crises and go on to become made stronger by these crises, instead of hit a dead end,” he said. “I find this video very supportive, and I’m very supportive of its efforts.”

Treleaven said as more people talk openly about suicide, people become more willing to seek help and support.

As for Hunter’s parents, they say they’re moving forward, one step at a time.

“We’re just trying to move forward, to get what (the district) need(s), what they’re asking for to get it vetted, to be able to show it at our own high school,” Travis Holmes said.

The video was a topic of discussion brought up by a few audience members at the Redmond School Board’s meeting on Wednesday night.

One mom, Randi Gibbs, who has a student at Redmond High, told the board she wishes the school district would allow for a conversation to occur around the video.

“I have some current concerns with it not being played and the students watching it on their own,” Gibbs said. “In their own homes, with no context, and no one to talk to about what the context means.”

Redmond High junior J.J. Rdidell, who was in the video, also spoke to the board about it.

He said it’s something the students at school are already talking about, but the school district is not having a conversation about it.

“The topic is important, because everyone experiences it,” he said. “It’s not something that you can just put aside, because it’s something that most everyone feels, especially in Oregon, because Oregon is one of the most depressed states in the country.”

“So this is something that many people in Oregon experience, or have people that they know have experienced. And so this video is something that can change that, start the conversation, and make a difference,” Riddell said.

The Redmond School board did not comment during the meeting on the video.

NewsChannel 21 has a page of resources and support to help save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide in our community, called Let’s Talk.

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