I live here in Valdese and I know the legislative session is just getting started. But, I wanted to take a minute of your time to talk about two passions of mine. NC Raise the Age, and Mental Health/Suicide Prevention.
I know that North Carolina is one of only two states that still treats all 16 and 17 year old children, automatically as adults, within the justice system. I am sure you are aware of all the research on brain development and that children's brains are not fully developed until their mid-twenties. I just want to encourage you to do all you can to make sure that legislation is passed this session that would raise that age to 18. I spoke at the Asheville Public Hearing of the North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice, in August 2016, as did many others. As the mother of two adult men, I am passionate that we give our youth every available opportunity to make successful, wonderful lives for themselves. That we lift our youth up. And I think it is vital that North Carolina makes progress in this area. I know there are logistics to work out, financial, and the area of major crimes. But I am sure, with your help, we can do what so many other states have done. If they can do it, we certainly can. So I encourage you, as bipartisan support for this movement grows, to be at the forefront of this change.
My second passion is mental health accessibility. I admit that I am not well versed on how the legislative process works. But I do want to share my story and my goal. My father died by suicide in 1996. And I grieve for him still. There is such a public stigma attached to mental health, depression, and suicidal thoughts. The only way to prevent suicide is for this to change, and for avenues of mental healthcare to expand. So I hope you will remember my story as you move forward through this legislative session and do all that you can to ensure access to mental healthcare remains a priority and we advance initiatives in this area. If you look at the statistics it is staggering and I hope you can help.
Thank you for your time,
Valdese, North Carolina