In an effort to spread awareness regarding teen suicide and mental health, Ally Salvador ’19 initiated and organized a project called the Truth Tree from Sept. 11 to Sept. 14. Members of the community who took part in the project wrote their inner feelings and goals anonymously on slips of paper, which she referred to as “truths,” and hung them from a tree outside of Rugby Hall.
Salvador said her objective for the Truth Tree was to give students, faculty and staff an outlet to freely express their emotions without fear of criticism as a part of National Suicide Prevention Week.
“I wanted to show the student body how people in our community are feeling without there being any censorship and for them to really understand the reality of suicide awareness and mental illness,” Salvador said.
Salvador also installed a table in front of the tree, where she displayed posters with various resources, including the National Suicide Prevention Line and Counselor Michelle Bracken and Upper School Psychologist Sophie Wasson’s contact information.
Salvador said she originally formed the idea of the Truth Tree with the assistance of her own therapist, who noticed an increasing number of successful teen suicides in Burbank. Their combined vision was to inform individuals with mental health illnesses of other options to cope with their stress and remind them that the community supports them through their struggles.
“I wanted to let people know that they’re not alone in whatever they’re facing and that their feelings are always valid, and I also wanted people in the community who don’t fully understand mental illness to know that it is prevalent in our community,” Salvador said. “Instead of shaming those who do have those issues, we should embrace them and learn to help them through it.”