HOWARD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — The Howard County Health Department is introducing a new program they hope will save lives and remove the stigma some may have when it comes to mental health.
The pain of one Ellicott City family puts a real face on the issue of teen suicide– and they are hoping their pain and openness will save others.
His family is making it their mission to make sure the boy who made such an impact on them can also do the same for thousands across Howard County.
Sincere Melvin was just 17-years-old when he committed suicide in 2018- just six weeks after graduating from Mt. Hebron High School. His spirit embodied every bit of his name, his family said.
“We named him Sincere because we tried for 2 years before we got Sincere so he was conceived in sincere love. I know that sounds corny but that was the reason why he got the name Sincere.”
A year after his death, his family is keeping his memory alive by making sure others will never feel the pain they have to by teaming up with the Howard County Health Department’s Grassroots Crisis Intervention.
A suicide prevention PSA will air in all Howard County movie theaters August 9 to September 5.
“I wanted to share my story. I think a lot of times when people go through mental health challenges with their family, they don’t talk about it. They keep it close to the glove and I think sharing my story although it is my story is a story a lot of families can relate to.” said Lashanda Whaley, Sincere’s mother.
Whaley plans on telling her story by telling people to ask questions.
“If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please talk with an adult or call the Grassroots Crisis Hotline,” The PSA reads off.
County Executive Calvin Ball, whose featured in the public service announcement leads the way, and said it’s personal for him.
“As a dad, I’ve got a middle schooler, a high schooler, and not only is youth suicide the leading cause of death for people aged 15-19, but in middle school, 1 in 5 have seriously contemplated suicide and 1 in 7 high schoolers have made a plan,” Ball said.
“I think that should give everyone pause- not just those in the health department. I’m a pediatrician and it gives me pause. I’m a parent and it gives me pause,” said Maura Rossman, health officer with the Howard County Health Department.
Pause to ask questions, because, they said, it’s okay to ask to learn from each other.
“Even though he was 17, Sincere is teaching me how to be a better person and how to be the person my friends can come to and just ask me,” his mother said.
Not only will it air in theaters, but if you buy your tickets online, you’ll also see it there. If you’d like to find a way to get involved in the Howard County Darkness Walk or to donate, learn more here.
If you or someone you know are struggling with mental health or contemplating suicide, there are resources available to help you, including Grassroots Crisis Intervention at 410-531-6677 and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.