Dad posts suicide prevention signs around his daughters’ school

When Colby Wallace thinks about the suicide statistics, especially those focused around young people, he can’t help but get upset. That’s why he’s trying to do something about it.

“Be the change you want to see,” Wallace told CNN affiliate KCPQ.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the state of Washington for people 10 to 24 years old, according to the Washington State Department of Health. It’s the third leading cause of death nationally.

A new study shows suicide rates in girls are rising, especially for people 10 to 14 years old.

A few weeks ago, Wallace began putting up signs with words of encouragement along the sidewalks near his daughters’ elementary school in Seattle.

“Don’t give up.”

“Your mistakes do not define you.”

“You matter.”

The non-profit “Don’t Give Up” started this sign movement in Oregon two years ago, and it has quickly spread worldwide, according to its website.

After hearing stories about people who took their own lives, Wallace said his goal is to foster conversation about mental health.

“As a parent, you feel really helpless when you hear these stories, that this is happening,” he said. “This is happening a lot, but nobody wants to talk about it.”

And with May being observed as Mental Health Awareness Month, Wallace’s timing couldn’t be more fitting.

The message Wallace wants to convey through these signs is simple.

“Don’t give up. Everybody is struggling,” he said. “You don’t know what people are going through.”

And some even as young as 6 years old agree.

“If you give up, you will always not be good at something,” said Zoe, who is helping Wallace put up signs.

Other parents have also supported Wallace’s mission.

“What’s wrong with having a positive message in general right? I think we need more of it,” said Deejay Alook, a father.

Wallace said while some of the signs have been vandalized, there are neighbors now posting them in their front yards.

“What a great idea to boost people’s feelings about themselves,” said Penny Scordas. “I can’t think of anything that’s better than ‘You matter.'”

As more signs pop up around his neighborhood, Wallace hopes his message will become contagious.

“I don’t know where this thing ends, but for now, for today, this is what we are going to do,” he said. “Don’t give up.”