When a teenager experiences loss or faces depression, where do they turn in their time of sorrow?
For kids in Detroit where counseling or a trip to the doctor is not always a possibility, a listening ear could sometimes be the difference between life and death.
DeAngelo Hughes grew up on Detroit's east side and with no where to turn after loosing his mom, he thought about ending his own life until he found another way. Now he's on a mission to help others.
For DeAngelo, thoughts of suicide were like a recurring bad dream that he could not wake up from, and the thoughts started haunting him after he lost his mom to a heart attack when he was only 13.
DeAngelo says, "My mom loved everyone she met, and my mom gave her very last to people."
He couldn't talk about the death of his mom because he felt he had no voice, so he acted out in anger instead.
"The first few years of loosing my mom I shut down, I blocked everything out," said DeAngelo.
Kids talk about suicide on Facebook, in the hallways of school or they contemplate it when they are alone. Teen suicide is the second leading cause of death for college age youth and for kids ages 12 to 18.
"I thought about suicide a lot," said DeAngelo.
Luckily, DeAngelo and his siblings were taken in by his older sister who promised his mom if anything ever happened to her, she would step in. Still for DeAngelo, depression was his wake up call every morning.
DeAngelo says, "I felt alone, abandoned, I felt mislead, I felt rejected, I felt like I didn't have love, I felt depressed and like there was no one out there who could relate to what I was going through."
DeAngelo then found comfort at school, mentors helped him realize his life was worth living and he could be an inspiration if he shared his story of overcoming depression and thoughts of suicide with other kids like him.
"They embraced me every day, saying you are inspiring, you are an inspiration, you are this, you are that and just hearing them say things like that built me up," said DeAngelo.
He is now a senior at East English High School and he has created the Detroit Flutter Chapter. It's a place where people can connect and share their stories about losing someone through death or about how to overcome thoughts of suicide.
"I feel like my job is not yet done because there are so many other youth out here who are tempted to commit suicide or who are suffering from grief and don't know there are people like me out here who are willing to help them," said DeAngelo.
DeAngelo takes his message to kids at school but also to those in the streets who sometimes feel they have no home to turn to, but at least now they have a voice of comfort to hopefully help them make it out of the darkness, too.
That's why DeAngelo Hughes is our Person of the Week.
*video courtesy of The Future Project