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Boise festival highlights mental health awareness

Posted: 5:52 PM, May 27, 2017
Updated: 2017-05-28 23:56:36Z

There is a new, national trend to combat suicide rates. The topic was highlighted at a Boise festival Saturday on mental health awareness.

Anyone thinking about ending their life may feel alone, but they're not.

For Jessica Tookey, depression and suicidal thoughts consumed her before she finally pursued a career she was truly passionate about.

"I realized, 'Oh my gosh, that's why I felt this way my whole life was because I wasn't being who I truly am,'" she said.

As an artist, Tookey now helps others through dark times with her Words Matter Exhibit.

Each portrait is of someone who was a victim of suicide or has had their own struggles. As their stories are read, Tookey says lives have been saved.

Several speakers took to the stage at the Indigo Art and Poetry Festival including a woman leading the way in emotional intelligence education here in the Treasure Valley. Teaching the youth how to cope with the "ups and downs" in life is a trend nationwide. She suggests parents start working on this early on with their children.

"We want them to be able to recognize their feelings, how they're feeling, and we want them to be able to direct their feelings in a positive outcome," said Karen Jean Lowe with Simpatico Emotional Intelligence.

Tookey teamed up with the G8ter non-profit that hosts monthly meetings. Their mission is to fight the stigma surrounding emotional struggles so people can reach their full potential.

"I don't want to be a face with a story that travels around with people. I want to be able to share my story, personally," Tookey said. "And, if I had gone through with my plans, I wouldn't have been able to do that."

Tookey is raising funds to take her art exhibit on the road, beyond the Gem state's borders. For more information, visit http://gr8ter.org .