Out & About: Beacon of Hope Community Luncheon

Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott and New York Jets’ Solomon Thomas shared their stories about mental health at the 14th-annual Beacon of Hope Community Luncheon held by the Grant Halliburton Foundation.

The March 7 luncheon at the Omni Dallas hotel supported the foundation’s work providing education, resources, and support for children, teen, and young adult mental health and suicide prevention in North Texas.

“We are grateful to all of you for being a part of our largest gathering of any event in our 17-year history — 700 strong — all here to support adolescent mental health,” Grant Halliburton Foundation president Kevin Hall said. “One thing has not changed — and that is the ever-growing need to support young people with their mental health.”

Vanita Halliburton, foundation co-founder and executive chairwoman, spoke on starting the organization after losing her son to suicide 17 years ago and the state of mental health in young people.

Some statistics she shared from the CDC:

  • Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 14 and the third-leading cause of death for those ages 15 to 24.
  • One in eight Texas high school students have reported attempting suicide in the past 12 months — twice the national average.
  • In Texas, one teen is lost to suicide each day; in Dallas, it’s two per week.

GHF was meant to be a wellspring of information, guidance, resources, and encouragement for those engaged in the fight for someone’s mental health — for themseelves or for someone they care about,” Halliburton said.

Prescott and Thomas, both guest speakers at the event, are both on a mission to raise awareness about mental health and suicide with their foundations off the field after each losing a sibling to suicide.

Prescott founded the Faith Fight Finish Foundation as a tribute to his mom, Peggy, who died of colon cancer in 2013, and its work also honors his brother, Jace, who died by suicide in 2020. Thomas, a Dallas native, lost his sister, Ella, to suicide in 2018 and co-founded The Defensive Line with his parents to focus on mental health and suicide prevention.

Both men emphasized that their faith keeps them going, and it’s important to be kind (both to others and yourself).

“Depression and anxiety can overwhelm you,” Prescott said. “I realized that during the first month of COVID. Sunny days felt dark, and my big house and yard felt small and closed in.”

Hall presented both athletes with the Beacon Award at the end of the luncheon for their leadership on and off the field for suicide prevention and mental health.

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