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How do I talk to my friend, family member or stranger about depression and suicide?

A few months into the typical New Year, the conversation
usually revolves around new beginnings personally or
professionally for some. For others, it’s students making
plans for Spring Break or going home to sleep in their own

Of course, the past 12 months have been anything but
typical. A new survey by the American Psychological
Association (APA) found that more than 80% of Americans
report emotions associated with prolonged stress.

Another year of increased stress and anxiety from the
isolation, work-from-home and distance-learning
environment caused by the global Coronavirus pandemic
begs the question:

How do I talk to my friend, family member or stranger about depression and suicide?

My 501c.3 non-profit, the Avery Burton Foundation (ABF), an
organization that aims to reduce the stigma around mental
health recently partnered with A Barrel of Strangers
Productions, LLC., on the release of “this isn’t
philosophical” (2021) – A Suicide Awareness Short Film

intended as an informal public service announcement on
how to and how not to interact with suicidal friends, family
members and strangers.

“this isn’t philosophical” pits two strangers in a mental
battle for one of their lives who is just 15 minutes away from
attempting to kill himself. The film is currently streaming on
YouTube below.

The goal of the partnership is to reduce the stigma around
the conversations about mental health and depression
through storytelling.

“We are excited to be teaming up with The Avery Burton
Foundation. We researched national organizations and they
were real passionate about helping students and families
impacted by mental health disorders,” Samuel Frye, Director
and Virginia Tech University Filmmaker, said. “For
individuals struggling with depression, and for those who
don’t know how to help their loved ones or friends, we hope
our film will be a guide post to lead them to vital community
resources like ABF that can help.”

One of the ways ABF and Frye’s film is helping is
through sharing Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) tips. MHFA
teaches individuals how to identify, understand and respond
to signs of mental illness and substance-use disorders.

Their training gives you the skills you need to reach
out and provide initial help and support to someone who may
be developing a mental health or substance-use problem or
experiencing a crisis.

For more information about MHFA, email:

“We are excited to partner with A Barrel of Strangers
Productions, LLC. on their suicide-prevention film and efforts
to remove the stigma and normalize the conversation around
mental health disorders,” Burton, Founder and President of
ABF said. “Storytelling and connecting those in crisis with
resources are powerful tools our foundation uses every day,
so we are delighted to share our resources with even more
people through this film short.”

ABF was founded in 2018 to honor my son, Avery
Rashawn Burton, who two months after graduating from the
University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) suffered a major
depressive episode and took his life in July 2017 at age 22.
He had just received his degree in May 2017 in
Kiniesiological Sciences and planned to pursue a doctoral
degree in physical therapy at UNLV.

To honor Avery’s memory and warn families about the
dangers of depression, my family started a scholarship in his
name. The Avery Burton Excellence in Academics and
Sports Scholarship ensures his legacy will live on through
the work of the ABF and storytelling initiatives, including the
Resilience Project, which is working to publish student
essays from this year’s record 57 applicants to ensure they
have their voices heard and inspire hope for others
struggling with the mental health toll from isolation as a
result of distance learning during the ongoing global
coronavirus pandemic.

For more information please visit:

You can learn more about Avery’s Story in Reggie
Burton’s book, “This is Depression,” his personal story of
Avery’s life and battle with depression
available on Amazon or

If you or someone you know is showing signs of being in a mental health crisis, visit our website for a list of resources at You can also
follow us on social media to start a conversation on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Reggie Burton is an author, speaker, entrepreneur and Founder/President of the Avery Burton Foundation, a non-profit 501c.3 organization focused on mental health and depression outreach. He is also the author of “This is Depression” available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. @reggieburton

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