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KidsPeace Visitor Jordan Burnham Gives Teens and Young Adults Hope

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Jordan Burnham is a confident, articulate young man who makes appearances to speak about mental health awareness and encourage youth to seek help when things are bothering them. Jordan speaks from experience and from his heart, which is why the kids who hear him pay close attention and feel comfortable asking him questions.


Jordan recently visited Dr. Julius Licata, Director of TeenCentral.Net, and graciously gave a talk to the teens who are in treatment at KidsPeace in the PA Residential Programs, making quite an impression on the kids and adults who heard his presentation. He also talked to the members of TeenCentral.Net via videotape, hoping to help teens feel more comfortable about admitting they have problems and seeking help.


Jordan’s Story

Jordan learned early on that wearing a happy mask was the best way to keep up appearances and pretend to be “normal.” His true feelings were deep inside and only came to the surface when he had consumed a lot of alcohol. His “cover” for seeming happy included sports, jokes and dating. He became very popular and won the election to be class president in 9th grade. All the while, he was hiding feelings from his family and friends. Then he failed his driving test for the third time and lost his cool for the first time, yelling, screaming and cursing at his father. His mother took him to a counselor, but he found it hard to relate to her. He was diagnosed with depression in 10th grade.


Jordan Burnham

Jordan Burnham



As Jordan entered 11th grade, he felt more pressure to do well on his standardized tests and make sure his slipping grades got better in order to get accepted by a good college. It was in 11th grade that he started thinking about suicide. He was taken to a “mental hospital” after telling his girlfriend that he was going to take pills to end his life. Hearing about the problems of the other youth in the hospital made Jordan feel that his issues were minimal and actually apologized in group for “only” suffering from depression. The hospital counselor told him that his depression was a serious issue that needed treatment just as much as the conditions of the other youth.


After he was released, Jordan experienced great guilt for doing things that in his mind disappointed his parents, both of whom are educators. He drank more and more and was caught drinking illegally twice. The final blow was when he threw a party while his parents were out of town, serving alcohol to school athletes. The party was broken up by the police, and Jordan felt he had truly hurt his parents with his behavior.


Senior year arrived, with Jordan being nominated to the homecoming court and playing golf so well that he was headed for the playoffs. His parents confronted him with two duffle bags of alcohol that were in his trunk. They were sad and disappointed.


Jordan felt terrible about letting his family down. He went to his room and jumped from his 9th floor bedroom window, fracturing his pelvis, tibia, fibula, jaw, femur and ribs and waking up after a 5 day coma with a tracheotomy tube in his throat to allow him to breath. Doctors were amazed that he had survived, but they were not optimistic about his ever walking again. Imagine being in your senior year of high school and being confined to a hospital and then a rehabilitation facility.


A reporter heard about Jordan and asked if he could write his story. Jordan insisted that the focus of the story be on mental health issues and the importance of getting help for problems no matter how young a youth is. The article was published on the front page of the newspaper, and Jordan began receiving many calls and emails thanking him for sharing his story.


Jordan attended his senior prom in a wheel chair and used a walker to receive his diploma. Today, Jordan walks on his own, but with difficulty.


See a video of Jordan's presentation at www.TeenCentral.Net

Speaking Out

Jordan has made it his mission to take his story to audiences that will benefit from hearing about his struggles. He has appeared on CNN, ESPN, “Good Morning America,” “The Doctor Phil Show,” “Good Day Philadelphia,” “The Early Show” and the Phil Eskin radio show and has nearly 1,000 of fans on Facebook. He also appeared in a documentary directed by Joe Pantoliano called “No Kidding, Me Too!” and was featured in a People Magazine article that highlighted “The Heroes Among Us.”


To Jordan, his most important role is as a speaker for Active Minds, a nonprofit that promotes the discussion of Mental Health issues through chapters on college campuses. Jordan travels the country for individual speaking engagements and is a panel member with other members of the elite group of Active Mind speakers called “The Heard.” He has had people who have heard him speak contact him to say that he helped dissuade them from suicide, a wonderful byproduct of being on the speakers’ circuit for Jordan.


And what does the future hold for Jordan Burnham? At 21, he would like to finish writing a book about his experiences this year and continue to reach to as many young people as possible with his presentations and appearances. He has been invited to appear on the Oprah show, as well. Jordan takes medication for his depression and still sees a therapist. He will eventually return to college to finish his last 2 years, but, right now, helping others is the most important job he can imagine.


thanks. i really think yew are a gud man thanks to yew im still here
Posted by: hope( Visit ) at 3/7/2011 12:52 PM

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