Young Hanford woman opens up about her struggles with depression

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For 22-year-old Angelique Sotelo-Acevedo, depression is an everyday battle. It is something hidden behind her smile and sense of humor, as she balances life as a single mother of two. (KFSN)

For 22-year-old Angelique Sotelo-Acevedo, depression is an everyday battle. It is something hidden behind her smile and sense of humor, as she balances life as a single mother of two.

"They're content, so it makes me feel like I'm doing on okay job."

It's actually much deeper for Angelique, becoming a mother gave her purpose in life. In fact, it saved her life-- from suicide.

"I was sitting there in the bathroom, gonna do it-- and I didn't want to do pills or anything. I was actually going to do a very big scene right there."

At the time, Angelique was a sophomore at Hanford West High School.

"I began to get really promiscuous, I just kept drinking, drugs, and I started smoking cigarettes, and I'm just 15, 16-years-old."

When Angelique started dating someone, she says she was bullied over social media and text messages. That led to fights, and even more attacks.

"I wanted to like, slice my throat so that they could see you know. I just wanted to feel like there was something inside of me. I wanted them to see that there was something inside of me that I wasn't empty, because I feel empty."

But in an instant-- at that very moment-- life changed.

Angelique said, "This is going to sound very weird but, I got really nauseous and I just vomited."

Angelique realized she was pregnant.

"It just made me feel like, this is a sign. I don't know, it's just how I felt was like, this is you. This is what you're meant to do."

Six years later, she admits she still struggles with suicidal thoughts and she is not alone.

"I think there's a lot of trauma, both experienced by youth and experienced in our society today," said Dr. Jennifer Newell, Dir. Behavioral Health Services.

Dr. Newell is the Director of Behavioral Health Services with the Tulare County Office of Education. She is hoping to help educators teach students about wellness.

"Not just free from mental disorder, but how to cope and how to use strategies when life gets hard because a lot of these kids just don't know."

Those efforts are getting a boost with Assembly Bill 2246 which requires California public schools serving grades seven through 12 adopt a suicide prevention policy by the start of the new school year.

For the Tulare Joint Union High School District, it helps make sure awareness is real.

"It crosses every demographic. It does not just choose one group of student, it crosses every single demographic-- that means that we have to all be on alert," said Sarah Koligian, Tulare Joint Union HS District Superintendent.

In recent years, TCOE has worked with community partners to implement prevention programs including youth mental health first aid training.

"Anyone can help, if they know how and they know where the resources are, but it's important for people to be able to feel comfortable to step in," said Lisa Jacobo, program director at Countryside High School.

"Having teachers be trained, administration be trained in this is key, so that way they can one, help reduce the stigma, and two, get help for a young person as soon as possible," said Rene Solis, school and community liaison.

Angelique went through the restate art program two years after her suicide attempt. That's when she created a painting using her ripped up suicide letter-- something a friend told her could help others.

"She was like, 'just imagine someone reading that and going through that and they read your story and they see like, it's ok.'"

Now, on top of being a working mother, pursuing a career as a certified nursing assistant, Angelique speaks to students across Tulare and Kings County, giving them life-saving advice.

"Don't ever let the dark clouds consume you because someone's there. Someone's there to help you-- someone's there to brighten your day, someone's there and all you have to do is get help."
Related Topics:
healthchildren firstsuicideteenmental healthkings countytulare countyHanford
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