Kasey Holcomb, an Ashe County High School senior, was recently featured in an anti-suicide public service announcement that aired during this season of American Idol.
Holcomb, a member of the group “It’s Okay to Ask,” traveled to Raleigh with nine of her fellow group members to shoot the commercial this winter.
“It was kind of scary,” said Holcomb about shooting the commercial, “once we got there, we had no idea what we were going to do or say.”
However, Holcomb and her friends quickly became more comfortable when they discovered each group member would read a short line in front of the camera. The 15-second-long commercial, according to Holcomb, only took about one hour to shoot.
It’s Okay to Ask is a joint effort from the N.C. Division of Public Health, Injury and Violence Prevention Branch, Youth Suicide Prevention Program, and works in collaboration with the N.C. Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force.
According to itsok2ask.com, suicide is the third leading cause of death for ages 10-24, “making it a serious public health issue.”
Holcomb has been a part of the group since November, and said the group’s member really bonded this year.
“We met a couple of time and just talked about suicide detection and prevention,” said Holcomb. “If you know the signs, it’s easier to reach out.”
Holcomb became involved with the group after she became curious about suicide rates in Ashe County. When she looked up the rates for herself, she was shocked by how high the suicide rate actually is.
Holcomb said she always knew Ashe County’s suicide rate was higher than average, but she never realized how high the rate was until her own investigation, where she discovered Ashe County’s rate is literally off the chart.
“I though that was terrible and something needs to be done about it,” said Holcomb.
This finding was especially significant for Holcomb, who works as a counselor for middle school students at a local faith organization. Holcomb said she began noticing signs of depression in some of the students she spends time with, and would like to raise public awareness for signs of depression and suicide.
“Ashe County can be a sad place,” said Holcomb, “I just want to help make it a better place to live.”.
Holcomb also said Kurt Cobain, lead singer for the American rock band Nirvana, influenced her interest in suicide prevention.
Cobain, a hero of Holcomb’s, committed suicide in 1994 at the age of of 27 after struggling with heroin addiction and depression.
Moving forward, Holcomb plans to turn her desire to help others into a profession.
Holcomb will attend East Tennessee State University this fall, and plans on becoming a pediatrician. To make headway towards this goal, Holcomb has taken nursing classes during her senior year.