Cedar Hill Student Raises Suicide Awareness With Speech

Braylon Thomas
Photo courtesy Cedar Hill ISD

Treat people with kindness

Braylon Thomas has a simple philosophy about suicide and how to prevent it. He believes that if you simply treat people with kindness they will want to live and not commit suicide.

In fact, the 11-year-old sixth grader at Cedar Hill Collegiate Academy wants to create a national student suicide prevention society that encourages friendship, mentorship, and suicide prevention information.

Thomas recently finished second in the National Kindness Speech Contest, sponsored by the national organization Think Kindness. The competition was between young people from across the United States ages 5-18. The competition included writing their own speech and submitting a two-minute YouTube video of that speech.

The original list of entries was narrowed down to ten finalists in judging from some of the nation’s top young motivational speakers. From there, citizens across America could cast their vote on which speeches inspired them the most.

The first-place winner received $500, while Thomas received $250 as the runner-up. Also, all winners receive a homepage feature on the Think Kindness website, along with a trophy.

“After listening to his speech, I strongly believe all scholars, teachers, and educational stakeholders need to hear it and have a conversation about mental health, bullying, and social awareness,” said Dr. Xavier Lewis, principal at Collegiate Academy. “It is unfortunate, but many of our children are battling with different circumstances so the message is necessary.”

If we’d value uniqueness, people will feel like they belong

Thomas believes if more opportunities are created for students to be themselves, and if everyone would just value the uniqueness of everyone around them, people will feel like they belong. He practices this in his daily life, looking for every opportunity he can to help make someone’s life a little better and easier.

“I have a special needs sister and I try to make sure she is taken care of because she needs my help,” Thomas said. “I have also volunteered with my sister’s Special Olympics team at her school to help athletes during their practices because my sister is a special Olympian.”

Thomas suggested joining forces to make sure more kindness comes about. For example, he recommended students and adults join organizations that allow them to meet other people and make friends. The more friends a person has, the kinder they should want to be.

He gave an example that inspired him

“When I was inducted into the National Elementary Honor Society, I made so many friends and we were there for each other,” he said.

In general, Thomas believes the world could – and should – be a kinder place. He believes many of the nation’s and the world’s problems could be solved if people would just focus more on being nicer.

In other words, learn the golden rule and apply it – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

“There are a lot of things happening in the world and kindness can change society if people just treat people the way they would want to be treated,” he said. “People have better days when people are nice to each other.”


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Rick Mauch
Rick Mauch is a veteran of more than four decades in the media. He began writing in high school and immediately went into broadcasting for almost a decade after graduating, working his way to morning drive in Birmingham, Alabama. However, realizing how much he missed writing (though he did continue to do some during his time in top-40 radio), Rick returned to what he loved and has been doing it ever since. Rick's career has spanned a plethora of media outlets, including community journalism, sports, entertainment, politics and more. He's worked in print, broadcast and online media. He also spent several years doing public relations for a children's home in East Texas - still writing on the side, of course. When he's not writing, Rick loves to play golf and do Bigfoot research. He's an avid believer. He also made his first hole-in-one in June of 2020. Rick is married to Junell Mauch. They have five children and three granddaughters