Kelsey stood proudly next to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam as he signed "Jared's Law". This law expands the current Jason Flatt Act to require all school employees to be trained in suicide prevention, intervention, and post-vention as well as having policies in place to be followed at such time a student is in need of help.
Left to Right: with Governor Haslam is Senator Kerry Roberts; Shannon Hall, AFSP; Misty Leitsch, TSPN; Scott Ridgway, TSPN; Cameron Eanes, Jared’s Keepers; Kelsey Neeley, Jared’s Keepers; Diane Roberts and Representative Mary Littleton.
Kelsey Neeley, daughter of Tonya and Keith Neeley of Pegram, has been named to the position of Director of Student Outreach for Jared’s Keepers Foundation, a newly formed 501c3 Non Profit that brings awareness to suicide prevention. Neeley is a Junior at Harpeth High School in Kingston Springs, TN. Neeley has been instrumental in bringing suicide awareness to the students at her high school and was the inspiration behind the founding of the non-profit foundation after organizing a team by the same name to walk in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Music City Out of The Darkness Walk in Nashville, TN. Neeley lost a close friend, Jared Martin, a former HHS student who recently moved, to suicide in June of 2014. Neeley’s hard work and perseverance launched the team into first place in fundraising, earning the title of Grand Marshal for the 2015 walk. The team raised over $3600 and additional donations are still coming in to the AFSP. In addition, Neeley recruited over 80 team members to walk to raise awareness. Neeley also organized activities during National Suicide Prevention week at HHS that included handing out of awareness ribbons and wallet cards with the National Hot Line phone number and a Life Saver on them encouraging students to reach out and ask for help when needed. Neeley has an “I won’t take No for an answer” and will be working with the administration to implement the More Than Sad program at HHS. More Than Sad is a fully funded program by the AFSP and educates teens to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression in themselves and others. The program helps to remove the stigma from depression by understanding it as an illness, promotes the importance and acceptability of seeking help, and demystifies the treatment process. Neeley was recognized at this year’s walk after the Nashville Chapter for AFSP learned of her efforts. Members from the AFSP National Office were on hand to help honor her as she was awarded her position. The Chapter was so impressed by Neeley’s drive and determination she was asked, along with her team, to lead the two mile walk through historic Music Row. Debbie Martin, mother of Jared and President of Jared’s Keepers Foundation, said “Kelsey is an amazing young woman who has single handedly lifted me from the depths of grief depression and inspired me to do something positive with this tragedy I have been given. “ Kelsey’s passion for suicide awareness is unmatched. Her initiatives to get programming into schools and raise awareness for mental health issues is extremely impressive. We are very lucky to have her as a part of our organization” said Josh Easler, Chairman of Nashville Out of the Darkness Community Walk.
Kelsey was awarded the I.C. Hope (Erase the Stigma) Award from Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee. This award is given to individuals who work to reduce / eliminate the stigma associated with mental health. Pictures with Kelsey are various award winners from throughout Tennessee with various awards. Other award winners pictured are representatives from Corporate Real Estate Advisors - Business Partner Award, Kelly Dorsey-Steel - Clifford Beers Award, Your Heart on Art representative - Collaborative Nonprofit Partner Award, Leeanna Patterson - Louise B Katzman Volunteer of the Year, McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations representatives - Media Award, Kevin Sanders, MD - Outstanding Mental Health Professional, also pictured are the winners of the Board Member of the Year and Staff Innovator of the Year.
Kelsey was awarded the Harpeth Way Award at her high school graduation May 27, 2016 This award is given to individuals who exemplify the Harpeth tradition of helping others. Pictured with Kelsey is Principal Dr. Ryan Longnecker and Assistant Principal Lee Rector.