Ryan was our oldest son who took his own life on October 15th, 2014, just 3 months shy of his 18th birthday. As we have struggled to come to terms with our family’s tragedy, we have learned all too painfully that youth suicide is not uncommon and the statistics are alarming.
Suicide is now the 2nd leading cause of death in ages 15-19 and rose 56% between 2007-2017 reaching a 40 year high. In that time period the suicide rate for 10-14 year olds also tripled.* While every tragic story behind these statistics is unique, many will include depression and feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth. Ryan belonged to that group, and we owe it to him to do whatever we can to try and prevent others from going through the same terrible experience. Our goal is to create something positive out of his unimaginable tragedy.
Ryan had a passion from an early age for history and all things military. He was loved and respected by his family and his diverse groups of friends, yet he struggled with low self-esteem, having grown up with his own personal challenges and generally feeling like he did not ‘fit in’, often experiencing the brutal attacks of bullying. He loved nature and often sought its refuge, enjoying the tranquility, beauty and purity of an environment that supports all living things.
Ryan's experiences led him to believe that no one should be labeled or judged at face value because every person is unique, has value and deserves respect. In his quiet, kind, often humorous and very unique way, he spent the last few years of his life reaching out to those who felt different or were going through personal struggles like himself, because as he aptly said many times, 'in the end we're all human".
We've founded the Ryan Bartel Foundation therefore on Ryan's very basic principle that everyone deserves acceptance and that we need to provide resources and hope for youth who struggle with self-esteem and motivation to live.
Our objectives are :
To break the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide through communication and positive outreach in our communities;
To create a culture where everyone matters;
To facilitate connections among youth and with trusted adults;
To empower youth to seek help for themselves and help others;
To provide evidence-based programs to build resiliency for coping with life’s challenges; and
To support youth-inspired activities to foster self-purpose, belonging and hope.
Ultimately we want to become a center for educational programs, activities, information, resources and support for those who struggle so that they can go from feeling hopeless to hopeful about life.
The Ryan Bartel Foundation is registered as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Tax ID 47-5129027.
Suzie and Ben Bartel