Linda was blessed with 2 healthy girls, almost 10 years apart. Although we never received a diagnosis, I am positive that my daughter, Lauryn Santiago, suffered with severe Anxiety, Depression and possibly PTSD, from childhood trauma as well as familial bullying. We lost Lauryn to suicide on February 16, 2013. Lauryn’s birthday was on January 26, 2013 and was only 15 years old for about 3 weeks.
In May 2013, I realized something was really wrong. My daughter was not the first child lost to suicide. The secrecy, shame and stigma of Suicide around the world, was preventing proper awareness.
It was at this time, I decided. I would not allow myself to be ashamed of my daughter's death by suicide. As I cleared my thoughts, I began to research and learn as much as I could. As I learned I realized that there are signs that Lauryn showed, which could have allowed me to understand she was suffering from mental illness. I learned that I could have saved my child if only I were aware. If my doctors office was properly trained. If the school counselor was properly trained and certified. If the schools were properly trained.
We speak at events and schools to share the major signs of depression as well as suicide awareness. The kids need to learn how to cope with life's daily risk factors. We help families to cope and see the effect of Divorce, bullying, sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual identity, ADHD and many more. Adults cannot cope with daily risk factors, so how should kids?
Kelley is a mother to 2 amazing daughters and comes with an amazing advocacy history. Kelley was the Organizer of the MD Chapter of Out of the Darkness Community Walk in Annapolis, 2014, 2015, and 2016. As the Chair of the walks, Kelley oversaw all logistics of the event from the location, permit and scheduling with the city through the end of the event.
The success of the Out of The Darkness walks are just a small example of the passion Kelley offers to spread awareness. The 3 years of Kelley's dedication have proven to be beneficial as the walks increased with years. In 2014, raised $75,000. In 2015, raised $95,000, to be the highest grossing walk in Maryland. In 2016 Annapolis was #29 out of all walks raising over $128,000 with over 1,000 walk participants.
In an effort to increase awareness, Kelley also assists with providing testimony in support of Maryland Laws, as well as support for our county's Veterans. As a Maryland native, it is Kelley's passion to help others to understand they are not alone. Mental Illness is serious and Depression is real. There is help and through Lauryn's Law, Kelley is a strong advocate for our youth, so they know they have a voice.
I don’t want this bio to be about me. I could tell you about my degrees, achievements, and my career; but that isn’t what made me want to be a part of Lauryn’s Law.
Lauryn was a beautiful little girl and spirit. She was sweet, adventurous, and caring. She was just beginning to understand the person that she could become in Christ when she decided this world was not worth it. People that should have loved her did not. Those that should have guided her did not. This world let her down, and after 15 years and 3 weeks, she left.
We should not be without this lovely presence. She should have babysat my son. I should have attended her graduation equip with a Target gift card for her to buy college essentials. We should have celebrated her achievements not grieve her loss.
My prayer is that laurynslaw.org will prevent this type of senseless loss; lives lost due to bullying, ignorance, and neglect. I want the public to know what signs are a trigger to know their loved one is in distress. I want not to lose more spirits like our beloved Lauryn.
My name is Luzdelia Schantz (Lucy) and I am an advocate for suicide prevention and mental health awareness. I also happen to be the Aunt and Godmother of Lauryn Santiago. I yearn to spread the signs and symptoms of this epidemic we call "suicide," one that is taking the lives from so many parents, families, and loved ones. Lauryn was quiet, yet powerful, popular and simply that cool, yet, nice girl; beautiful inside and out. She cared deeply for everyone she met and was loved immensely. I and my family miss her every day and want nothing more than to see not one more life lost to this suffering.
This is where Lauryn's Law comes in, to educate and guide anyone who knows someone struggling or is personally struggling themselves. Lauryn's spirit is still alive through her legacy, which is now her mother's "mission," Lauryn's Law.
Wendashia Jones Ray
Wendashia Jones Ray serve on the board of LLINC, She is passionate about inspiring and helping others recognize their greatness. She is driven by the gift of faith. As an advocate against teenage dating violence and domestic violence, Wendashia is passionate about empowering girls and women. Wendashia’s positive energy and motivation comes from God, her husband, her two daughters and her son. She is currently a full-time student pursing a degree in Business Administration.
The loss of those who served as part of her lifeline—her father, and both of her grandmothers—left Wendashia anxious and fearful of loss. She has transformed that fear into a spirit to serve by working with the Comfort Ministry at her church; and by using her gift of writing to comfort others who are suffering from their own loss. Wendashia often writes spiritual poetry and affirmations for special events and programs.
Embracing the powerful tools of faith, family, friends, focus, and follow-through, Wendashia and the family of advocates at Lauryn's Law will fight against the darkness of depression and provide a voice of hope to those feel isolated and alone.