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Teens with depression and their supporters are invited to attend 'Armed With Hope.'

COURTESY PHOTO: TEENS FINDING HOPE - From left to right, Beaverton resident Kristi Barth and Sherry Krueger of Tualatin speak at an Armed With Hope conference in Omaha, Nebraska, earlier this month. Barth and Krueger have partnered to reach out to teens with depression and their families, telling them they are not alone and connecting them with mental health resources.Youth suicide is a big and growing problem in the United States.

Nine years ago, two local women decided to do something about it. Kristi Barth and Sherry Krueger founded a nonprofit group called Teens Finding Hope, which has a mission of providing resources to teenagers and families of teenagers who are coping with depression.

Depression is a recognized health condition that can affect people of any age, often regardless of any external factors. It can drain enjoyment and passion from its sufferers' lives and fuel suicidal impulses, even in people who may seem from the outside to have a prosperous, comfortable life.

Barth said she and Krueger both had a teen who was dealing with depression, and they bonded over the struggle that their children and families faced. However, they didn't find many useful resources to help them.

Barth and Krueger decided to write books together that tackle the subject of youth depression and suicide, as well as create an interactive website to connect teens and family members with resources.

This weekend, Teens Finding Hope is putting on conferences and workshops designed specifically for families like Barth's and Krueger's.

"We are having a teen mental health conference on Oct. 26 for teens impacted by depression and other mental health issues and their families," Barth said.

The conference is called "Armed With Hope," and it will be held from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at Beaverton Christian Church, 13600 S.W. Allen Blvd. in Beaverton.

There is a suggested donation of $15 per person or $35 per family, but no one will be turned away for inability to pay. Admission includes a boxed lunch.

Teens Finding Hope previously held an "Armed With Hope" conference on Oct. 5 in Omaha, Nebraska, also geared toward teens with depression and their loved ones.

There will be keynote presentations at Saturday's conference in Beaverton by Barth and Krueger. They will talk about their journey and the mission of Teens Finding Hope.

There also will be a panel lunch discussion led by teens and parents representing ASHA International, a group that advocates for and provides support to people living with mental illness.

In addition to ASHA International, groups like Lines for Life, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the National Alliance for Mental Illness, the Dougy Center, the Suicide Prevention Council ,and Parents Against Depression will have resources available at Saturday's event.

For more information or to register online, visit visit the Armed With Hope conference website.

By Mark Miller
Washington County Editor
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