GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. — Not even the bitter cold could stop people from gathering at a Greenwood Village park to remember 15-year-old Jack Padilla.
Ever since Jack Padilla’s death by suicide, his father Rick Padilla made it his mission to help other young people struggling like his son.
"When Jack passed, we as a family made a decision that if we really wanted to impact teen mental health, we had to be willing to share his story. And it’s a painful story," said Rick Padilla.
Padilla has made it his goal to draft a bill in his son’s name, in order to provide more teens with mental health resources.
The impetus for that bill was to create another tool for the mental health toolkit for schools to strengthen up of bullying laws in our state.
Sunday would have been Jack Padilla's 17th birthday.
The bench they gathered around is the same one they used to sit on to watch Jack when he played sports.
"The spirit of Jack is here. We have the bench dedicated to Jack, and Jack used to play lacrosse and football here all the time and we’d sit and watch him play out here and just enjoy himself," said Rick Padilla.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among 10- to 24-year-olds in Colorado. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in 2019, there were more than 1,300 deaths by suicide in the state — that's about 100 more than the previous year.
"We need to give a voice to youth. Our youth are suffering right now," said Rick Padilla.
Through Rick Padilla’s work and the drafting of a new bill, they know one day soon they’ll make an impact in their community to help teens in need, and keep the memory of their son alive.