We had the good fortune of connecting with Kari Eckert and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kari, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
Robbie’s Hope helps our community and country by bringing awareness to the epidemic of teen suicide. The numbers of teens that have died by suicide in the last few years has doubled in many states and suicide is the leading cause of death in most states but little is being done to prevent deaths by suicide. Robbie’s Hope was created after the death of my 15 year old son Robbie. Robbie was a typical teen-he was a student athlete, he was excelling in school, he always had a smile, was a leader, well liked, was not in trouble yet he died by suicide. After Robbie’s death my husband and I went to Robbie’s friends and classmates to learn more about being a teen today. We learned so much and continue to learn from our youth. Our youth are hurting and carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. They are tired of seeing their friends die by suicide. Our nonprofit has a mission to cut the teen suicide rate in half over the next ten years by enabling our youth with the tools and resources they need to talk about depression and anxiety. We distribute resources to adults (parents/teachers/coaches) for free such as our Robbie’s Hope Adult Handbook-A Guide by Teens on How to Talk to Teens and the Robbie’s Hope Technology Handbook. I encourage adults to ask their teen if they know what HOPE is….Hold On Pain Ends. We teach teens It’s Ok to Not be Ok. We have an army of teens helping us in our mission, in fact over 2000 Robbie’s Hope Ambassadors. Teens directly bringing awareness to the epidemic of teen suicide in their community. If not now when will we end the epidemic of teen suicide? The covid pandemic has amplified preexisting mental health conditions for our youth (actually for all). We all have mental health, 20 percent of our population will have a diagnosable mental illness during their lifetime. Mental illness is treatable-the sooner treatment is pursued the better the outcome. It is time to end the stigmas surrounding mental health. I do believe Robbie’s Hope is bringing more than just awareness to the epidemic of teen suicide, we are bringing solutions and the first one of these is we are listening to our youth and giving them a voice.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As the Executive Director I work with teens across the country to provide them with the tools and resources they need. The solutions to the teen suicide epidemic are not one size fits all. Each community is different and needs different resources. I help teens figure out what is best for their community and help them figure out how to get the work done. I think my background of being a stay at home mom prepared me well for my current role. I spent many hours volunteering in various roles as a stay at home mom both in schools and with my children’s sporting commitments. I understand how the organizations our teens are in work. Prior to raising my children I was a licensed funeral director. I am no stranger to the bereavement process. I have always been empathetic and wanted to help others. I also hold a degree in psychology. I want people to know that I was a good mom and that Robbie was a great kid. I regret not asking Robbie how he truly felt, being 100 percent vulnerable with Robbie. Listening more than talking with him and not worrying about the small stuff as parents often do. Parenting is hard, hard stuff but the best job in the world. I would do it again even knowing the outcomes and how Robbie would die. My children mean the world to me and now I put that effort into the children of others to help them.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If I had an out of town friend visit I would be certain to take them to the high country-the beautiful CO mountains. The mountains fill me up. We would go for a few hikes including some of the local hiking trails here in the Golden and Boulder areas. We would also make a day trip to Estes Park and go into Rocky Mountain National Park. We would likely have a picnic lunch in the park next to a stream. I would also plan a day in Downtown Denver. A visit to the Colorado History Museum and to the Botanic Gardens. We would likely have breakfast at Snooze near Coors Field. Being a Golden resident we would tour the Coors Factory and have lunch at The Buffalo Rose or Abejas. I would also schedule a day in Colorado Springs. The new Olympic museum is fascinating. Maybe even the Pikes Peak Cogway would take some of our time. There are so many places I would want to take my out of town friend. Colorado is a great place to live in and I like sharing it with my friends and family.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I thank the youth of Robbie’s Hope OG in Golden, CO. These youth used their personal grief at the loss of their friend Robbie by suicide to help other teens. They are the catalyst to our success as an organization and continue to inspire me daily. Robbie should be graduating this spring (class of 2021). I have gained so much joy from staying in contact with his friends-the OG’s. They gave me many reasons to smile during the most difficult days of my life. I also would like to thank my husband Jason-the cofounder of Robbie’s Hope. Jason’s dedication and heart for the youth of this country is remarkable. He devotes many, many hours into our organization and always has the best interests of the teens first. Never did I think I wanted to work with my husband in a professional manner but I have to say he is the best boss and coworker I could ever have asked for. Not only has Robbie’s Hope thrived but our marriage has too and this is something I am so grateful for as many couples who experience the loss of a child also loss their marriage. The road we travel together is difficult but we together have much HOPE.
Facebook: Robbie’s Hope