BILLINGS - A Big Timber teen has made it her mission to raise mental health awareness with her organization, Battle Scar.
She participated in the 19th annual Yellowstone Valley Suicide Prevention Walk in Billings on Sunday.
Not many teenagers would spend their birthday walking for suicide prevention, but for 17-year-old Sam Rooney, it’s a cause that means the world to her.
“When I was nine, my dad committed suicide and that hit me really hard and I went through severe depression, and anxiety, and it put me in a really bad situation,” Rooney said.
When she was 13, she decided to channel that anxiety and depression into Battle Scar Suicide Awareness, an organization that helps others struggling with mental health issues.
“I started just handing out pamphlets and giving people information and it turned into doing resin crafts and going to craft fairs and raising money,” said Rooney.
She made her first donation of $1,000 to Hope Community Center in Oklahoma City, where she was living before she moved to Montana last year.
Now, she’s working to better her community in Big Timber.
“I just hosted my first carnival, that we raised about $950 for them and we’re still getting donations for them,” Rooney said.
At the end of the month, Rooney will be donating over a thousand dollars to the Big Timber Mental Health Center.
She’s hoping to turn Battle Scar into a nonprofit.
“Right now, I just have my business license, but it takes a little while to get the actual non-profit license but that’s what we’re working towards right now,” said Rooney.
She wishes to raise suicide and mental health awareness for others as she’s experienced the toll it has taken on her family.
“It’s very important for me because when we lost my dad, my family had no idea about mental health, what the signs were, and what was happening to him,” Rooney said.
She said helping others also allows her to cope with her own mental health struggles.
She hopes that one day, she can do it for a living, "my future goal is to open a counseling center for teens and young students."
Rooney’s goal is to inspire struggling people to get the help they need.
“You don’t have to be inside your mind. You can go and get help, and if they want to come to me, I’m more than willing to help someone,” Rooney said.
If you'd like to know more about Battle Scar, visit Battle Scar - Suicide Awareness | Facebook.