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Warren Man Uses Personal Story To Help Remove Stigma Of Teen Mental Health In Book “Branden’s Choice”

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Warren Man Uses Personal Story To Help Remove Stigma Of Teen Mental Health In Book “Branden’s Choice”

After his son Branden lost his battle with mental illness in 2019, what started as a journal for one Warren County man quickly became a larger mission.

John St. Clair took his notes and his journal and turned them into the book, Branden’s Choice. He said that the book chronicling the time following his son’s death has an important message:

“You have to take the first step, you have to reach out, you have to tell someone that there’s a problem,” St. Clair said. “Don’t be afraid of the backlash, or the ostracizing or the bullies or the being made fun of. Don’t worry about that. Worry about you and your mental health. Don’t ever wait. You are not alone.”

St. Clair said that the most difficult part of the process was sharing such personal details about his story. He said that there are many things, such as the last night he spoke with Branden, that he never expected to share with anyone.

“I put that in the book and I didn’t think I would and that’s terrifying,” St. Clair said. “To have that privacy out there. And some of the things that I thought the first six months after Branden made his choice I never thought would be out there. But as I wrote the book, I realized I can’t tell all these kids and all these young minds to open up and let it out don’t be scared if I in turn am doing the opposite. So I did. And while it’s terrifying, at the same I feel proud.”

St. Clair said that this is part of a larger goal to open up the conversation surrounding teens’ mental health and make it less taboo. He said that in the days after Branden’s death, he had spoken to over 200 teens in the community that has either contemplated suicide or had been self-harming due to depression and anxiety.

St. Clair said that as part of this mission, he and his family also started the B.E.D.S. Teen Outreach Center in McMinnville. He said that since its inception, the number of people taking advantage of the center’s services has only grown.

“By pushing as much as I have and by other people realizing that it’s a stigma, by telling people these kids are hurting themselves at the ages of 10, 11, 12, and then showing them, proving to them that these kids are reaching out for help, it’s just knocking down walls everywhere. I see things changing week by week, more websites are going up, new people are coming out and speaking about their problems. Every week it’s becoming more and more open and it’s absolutely amazing.”

St. Clair said that folks can reach him on his Facebook page or by contacting the B.E.D.S. Teen Outreach Center at (931) 409-8707.


If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, is available 24/7. It is free and confidential.


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