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Rockford mother helps teen mental health resolution pass through Illinois House

By Brandon Giesey Published: May. 4, 2021 at 9:09 PM CDT

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Attack a stigma and protect our youth, that’s what a new statewide mental health plan for teens with Rockford roots hopes to accomplish. “I lost my 19-year-old son to suicide,” Xavier Whitford said. Rockford mother Xavier Whitford remembers her son, Tommy Corral, as a normal fun-loving teenager. “He was a good looking, athletic, well-loved, well-liked, successful young man,” Whitford said.

Ever since Corral’s death, Whitford has worked to educate the public about ways to be mentally healthy.

“Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10 to 34-year-olds,” Executive Director of the Tommy Corral Foundation Whitford said.

Now Whitford’s work has made its way to the Illinois capitol.

“This is a way to really make sure the stigma of mental health is not instilled into our children,” State Representative Maurice West said. Whitford and West worked hand in hand to draft a new resolution, it recommends Illinois schools build some form of curriculum to teach students how to manage mental health concerns.

“I would love to see mental health as a primary subject under the health class they take in school,” Whitford said.

The resolution passed through the Illinois House 99-0, it will make its way to the Senate where Senator Steve Stadelman will sponsor it.

“It’s very much within a school district’s responsibility to address this issue and help teens cope,” Stadelman said.

Whitford hopes it’s just the beginning of more to help kids cope, seeking a mandate for mental health education at all levels in Illinois schools.

“This is the way I honor my son and his memory is by sharing his story and fighting for people like him who are still here,” Whitford said. “I don’t want to see other family members go through what we’ve gone through.”

West said he has received calls from lawmakers in other states who are interested in adoption similar legislation.

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