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From Personal Struggle to Peer Mission by Grace Martinez & Nicole Biscotti, M.Ed.



From Personal Struggle to Peer Mission

The Many Voices of Grit. True Stories, Real Educators, Serious Inspiration.

By Grace Martinez & Nicole Biscotti, M.Ed.


“I’m starting my story in a place where I thought my life was a nightmare. I felt alone and depressed to the point that I isolated myself from the people that I love. I felt that cutting could erase the pain. Cutting is what took me away from the world that I lived in. Cutting made me numb to that world. That world was gray, lifeless and bleak. At this point in my life, only the cutting could relieve the pressure I was feeling. Cutting made me forget about the mean words and physical attacks I had to endure on a daily basis.”


“I was bullied because of how I looked and even how I spoke. For 7 years I cried myself to sleep, I lived with the pain of bullying and I chose cutting as my release. At that time the way that I dealt with my internal pain was harsh, but, today I CHOOSE not to allow the past and the cutting to define me.”


“Let me share with you a few things that I have learned along the way. Self-harm is defined as intentionally inflicting pain on oneself; it is a negative coping mechanism and an emotional outlet. There are many reasons that people self-harm. Some reasons are depression, anger, anxiety, or as a cry for help. I was of those people that hurts themselves on purpose.”

“In my mind I thought cutting gave me a release. Instead it was actually taking me away from my family, my friends, and more importantly from myself.”

“I was blessed to have a caring friend that saw my cuts. I was lucky because this caring friend stood up for ME; she put the friend before the friendship. She saw that I needed help and went to my school counselor, who then went to my parents. This enabled my parents to get me the appropriate help that I so badly needed.”


“Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. Now think about this, for people in our age group (between the ages of 15 to 24), suicide is the second leading cause of death. Let me put it into perspective, accidents or unintentional death is the only thing that ranks above suicide. Had my friend not put “the friend before the friendship” I may not be here today sharing my story. Your friend might be angry with you for reaching out to an adult for help, but an angry friend is better than a dead friend.”


“I advocate for my peers because ONE LIFE LOST is ONE too many. Kids are suffering in silence, without support. When it becomes too much they look for a release like cutting or an escape like drugs and alcohol. This only leads to more isolation and lower self-esteem. When it becomes unbearable, more and more kids are completing suicide. We NEED to make OUR VOICES HEARD to end this vicious cycle, and help those come forward to get the assistance they need.”

“Here is the good part of my story, the light after the darkness. I got help. The help I received from my therapist at Valle del Sol led me to find my voice, and transformed me in many positive ways. I became more confident and began to thrive.”

“Even after the taste of success in the fall of my eighth grade year, I fell victim to another attempt of bullying, when Vine videos were made about me. We don’t stop experiencing trauma because we get help but here is the difference: this time I was prepared with the coping skills to handle the situation. I was able to have a positive reaction to a negative action.”


“My therapist nominated me to attend Valle Del Sol’s Connect to Lead program where I became its youngest graduate. That experience led me to participate in the Pendergast Superintendent’s Student Council. I was a student member of the Pendergast Elementary School District Governing Board as well. My improved self-esteem boosted my eagerness to participate in things I otherwise would not have.”

“An extraordinary teacher, my assistant principal, my friends, and officers from Phoenix police department all came together and we organized an anti-bullying assembly for my school. The whole school, including students that had bullied me, heard a powerful message of kindness and peace. I was presented with a Certificate of Congressional Recognition from US Representative Grijalva for my efforts in anti-bullying initiatives.”


“I have continued my work in high school. I am a speaker for Speak up, Stand up, Save a Life Youth Conference and a student leader in a group to create awareness of mental health and suicide on my campus. We have received a statewide implementation award and media attention for our efforts. My hope is that we have created increased awareness for both teens and adults. If we touched only ONE heart, it was worth it.”


“I share my story to shed light on a subject that needs to be discussed but also as a message of hope. Millions of people, many of them children, need to know not only that there is help, but that you can live and thrive. Knowing the impact that I have empowers me to remain strong, to seek help when issues come up, to keep advocating for myself, and to keep moving forward toward my purpose.”


“Our GENERATION has an opportunity to advocate for change. TODAY is the day to have the conversations to start a movement. TODAY is the day to take on the challenges of MENTAL HEALTH, BULLYING, and SUICIDE PREVENTION. Today we have an opportunity to engage the adults in our community that can affect that change.”


“No one is alone. I know this because even at my darkest hour I was not alone. There are many resources out there if you need help staffed by people who genuinely care and understand. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the Hope Line at 741741.”


“My name is Grace and my story is just BEGINNING.”


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