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Elisemarie DiCarlo: “There is always hope!”

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The statistics are alarming:
• One in six middle school-age children has considered suicide.
• One in five high schoolers has considered suicide.
• One in four college students has considered suicide.

These numbers have found a personal path to Elisemarie DiCarlo, M.D., MFA, who prefers to go by Marie. The Kansas City, Missouri, native is the founder and executive director of Talk 2 Me, A Program of Hope, that provides grants for counseling including but not limited to anyone suffering from anxiety, depression, trauma, addiction or grieving the tragic loss of a loved one. Since September 2019, this organization has focused on helping people connect, heal and thrive in our schools and communities by supporting mental and physical health and suicide prevention.

Marie has a personal connection to the impact of suicidal ideation on children. Her son, Jacob, had three schoolmates take their lives at different points during his high school years. Knowing how grave the situation was and her concerns for her child, she had repeatedly checked with him on how he was taking the news. He reassured her he was okay. But then one day his high school counselor called and said her son was having a hard time and she needed to come. Jacob was not okay. His high school counselor was his “safe person” to talk to about his feelings.

Alleviating Kids’ Suffering
“I want to help other moms. Kids are so good at hiding their problems because they don’t want us to be mad or disappointed or sad. But they’re suffering silently, right under our roofs. What we need to do is have conversations to give them space. And we should encourage moms to determine their child’s safe person and discuss it with them,” advised Marie. “Who would you talk to? Who’s your safe person to talk to when you’re feeling bad about something? Kids need to have that someone. But a safe person does not suggest alcohol and drugs or escape, but is someone who will direct you to actual help.”

Talk 2 Me is based on the fact that talking to even one person can save your life. Marie and Jacob have been exceptionally transparent about their own struggles and continue to influence young people with their message of hope and healing. Talk 2 Me has reached thousands of young people and their families. Many times it’s presentations to students or other times it’s simply showing up at school or community events to let the kids know that help is available through Talk 2 Me or other counseling services. Businesses are also supported by this charity and each presentation is tailored to the audience receiving the message.

“We can give kids the skills, so they know there is a way through. There is always hope. There are always solutions. I say there are three solutions to every problem and that could be three people to help you or three ways to get there,” she remarked. “Take the biggest problem you have and think of three ways to fix it. There is always hope. There is nothing so dark and terrible that you can’t find hope.”

Resources and Lifelines
Keeping those open lines of communication is critical for Marie and Talk 2 Me. She and her team have provided counseling resources to approximately 7,500 people through resource sharing, promotion of the 988 number and other lifesaving resources. She brings a wealth of personal experience and over 20 years of working with adolescents and adults with mental health issues. While Talk 2 Me is a lifeline for many children, it can be their parents that can be the stumbling block for mental wellness.

“We are letting this generation down if we do not help them with their mental health. We are failing them. I know so many parents who don’t want their kids to get help. They tell them to suck it up and figure it out because ‘we don’t talk about this stuff.’ But the kids want the help,” she advised. “They want the resources and show up for them. But many can’t get there without their parents and that’s part of the journey, too. We all want to say, ‘No, not my kid.’ I said, ‘No, not my kid.’ So I get that. It’s awful for them, but it’s the kids that are in pain and they want the pain to stop.”
If your brain is giving you negative messages such as you’re not good enough, no one likes you, or if it’s telling you to hurt yourself or self-harming thoughts, Marie states that is likely mental illness. “But it’s like a broken arm. We can fix your broken arm and we can fix broken brain messages,” she said. “Would we shame a person for needing their diabetes medication? Of course not. You take it to make you better. It’s not a moral judgment and neither is mental health.”

The Kingdom Always Rises
In 2024, Talk 2 Me will focus on a book giveaway to help push its message of healing and hope for children and their parents. The Kingdom Always Rises will provide soothing faith for all those affected by the shootings at the 2024 Chief Super Bowl parade. Marie states this manuscript will help kids and families know that they can “get through sad, scared and uneasy feelings together and that from this we will grow stronger.” Marie wrote the book after her own experience of attending the Chiefs rally with her children, but fortunately leaving before the violence began. Illustrators include her children, Madison, Nicholas and Will. Proceeds will go to assisting victims, their families, children, first responders, police officers, medical personnel and anyone in need of assistance with trauma, depression, anxiety, grief, chronic pain, medical conditions and mental health.

“The book is about coping with things by getting the help that you need. Getting through trauma is hard. It causes you to become very fearful and live a life from that place of fear. I want to live my life from a place of love. I want others to have that freedom,” she remarked. “Can we keep the world safe for everyone? No, but we can give them skills and things to do if they feel bad. If you’re intuitive, act on that. I had uneasy feelings at the parade so we left before the shootings. We can’t guarantee everything to our kids, but we can give them skills to thrive and overcome. Also, the book covers that you cannot worry about what other people think. That doesn’t serve us. No one has a life that’s completely portrayed on social media.”

Multiple Wellness Modalities
Marie shares that a mental wellness strategy may include not only therapy but also exercise, medication and enjoying time with others. She notes that being in nature is extremely good for mental health. When they are employed together as part of an overall plan, impressive improvements can be achieved. The mind can heal from anxiety and depression but only through engaging in a solid plan composed of various coping skills. But not taking action means that the ability to achieve positive goals moves farther away.

“If you need help, get it now. My son wasted a whole year feeling bad. Don’t do that because it adds a layer that you don’t need. If you feel bad, get help. I fought for 30 years with a depressed mind. I don’t want anyone to go through that. I want people to get help the minute they need it. You don’t have to spiral to the bottom,” Marie noted. “Mental health is health. You get a physical health exam each year and we start with newborns. We look for physical changes all the time. But for mental health, we’re supposed to wing it. But that’s not working because we have higher and higher rates of people taking their own lives.”

Marie states that many times our mental health can benefit by extending compassion to those around us. Research has found that care and consideration can reduce depression and anxiety for the one extending the kindness. These actions can reduce distress, improve life satisfaction and strengthen social connection.

“Just be kind and give people a break. Give them grace. We know that people are suffering and that they are not happy,” she commented. “When someone does something that hurts your feelings, maybe you can give them grace. Maybe they’re having a hard time. Maybe they’re suffering. Many times the person acting the worst needs the most love.”


Talk 2 Me Fore the Kids
Talk 2 Me Fore the Kids golf tournament, an important fundraiser, is scheduled for 9:00 a.m., August 26,2024, at beautiful Falcon Ridge Golf Course. Every participant receives greens fees, cart, new sleeve of balls, snacks, drink ticket, lunch and more.
Register at and make possible the organization’s life-saving work to provide counseling, especially for anyone who has tragically lost someone they love.