Kids in Crisis: You're Not Alone Documentary

The documentary follows four young people from Wisconsin navigating mental health challenges. They’ve endured assault, bullying, incarceration, and discrimination. Some thought about suicide. But through the pain, they found support from family, friends, and strangers. They found the strength within themselves. They’re sharing their stories to let others know they’re not alone and that healing is possible. The film is an extension of USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin’s Kids in Crisis series, which over the past three years has uncovered rising suicide rates and gaps in mental health care in Wisconsin. The hour-long program begins with the inspiring half-hour documentary while the second half of the show will feature interactive discussions with mental health professionals and others who have experienced the effects of mental health issues.
Thank you to our panelists for sharing their stories.
Photograph of TJ Esser

TJ Esser

When he was 13, TJ told his family he was transgender. With support from his family and friends through his transition, he now feels comfortable being himself and dreaming of his future. At 16, he is sharing his story out of concern for his transgender peers, who don't experience as much acceptance, who experience higher levels of mental health challenges and suicidal thoughts.
Photograph of Alex Hart-Upendo

Alex Hart-Upendo
This Racine teen uses his creativity to cope with the difficult parts of his life, including homelessness and bullying. Alex has also turned his talent into a business, designing bow ties to help support his non-profit, Build-a-Bow.

Photograph of Barrett Poetker

Barrett Poetker

Now in her first year at college, this Brookfield East graduate is trying to put her high school years behind her, especially the emotional scars. For Barrett, high school was hard. She struggled with her parents’ divorce, bullying, and diagnosis of OCD, anxiety and depression.
Photograph of Reyna Saldana

Reyna Saldana
Since the age of 4, Reyna grew up in the “system” – first bouncing between foster homes and then, due to her violent behavior, treatment facilities and detention centers. Her mental health issues are most likely the result of severe childhood trauma she experienced. Reyna’s been diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Text the word "Hopeline" to 741741
Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255


para la prevencion de suicidio nacional 1-888-628-9454


Kids in Crisis: You're Not Alone Discussion

The second half of the program features interactive discussions with mental health professionals and others who have experienced the effects of mental health issues.
To go deeper, consider using our toolkit. We’ve produced short videos that go more in-depth into various subjects, provided extra information and suggested discussion questions.
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Screening Information
If you are interested in hosting a screening and discussion about this film, we encourage you to start by watching the full film or requesting a free DVD copy.

2019 Speaker's Task Force on Suicide Prevention - Part 1 - Ripon, WI

On June 17, 2019, the Assembly Speaker's Task Force on Suicide Prevention held an informational hearing and a public hearing in Ripon, WI. This is part one of two parts, and features the screening of Kids in Crisis: You're Not Alone, A documentary about youth mental health produced by Milwaukee PBS in partnership with USA TODAY NETWORK Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Following the screening, the task force held a panel conversation about the documentary.
Thank you to our generous sponsors for making this documentary possible.
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