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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Freshman launches organization to combat suicide

By Proma Sen

Jenna Machado ’12 was recently featured in Parade Magazine for her nonprofit organization, Colie’s Closet, created in memory of her cousin, Nicole Michalski who committed suicide on New Year’s Eve of 2003. Machado was fourteen years old when she founded the organization. Colie’s Closet subsidizes therapy for depressed or suicidal individuals and teaches middle school and high school students about mental health.

“The guilt of what happened is haunting,” Machado said, “but the organization has helped my family and my aunt deal with it well. However, the self-destructive nature of suicide and depression and the guilt associated with it is something I would never wish upon anyone else.”

Initially Colie’s Closet was a clothing sales drive. Profits went towards increasing the availability of therapy and aid to individuals suffering from severe depression.

Machado quickly legalized the organization and by age fifteen, she and her friends were among the first students in Colorado to become certified peer educators in the field of suicide and depression.

Colie’s Closet has expanded immensely since Machado founded it, especially within Colorado high schools. Apart from providing financial aid to those who cannot afford counseling, the organization works with middle and high schools to educate students about depression and suicide. Machado plans to expand the organization to the Twin Cities area and eventually to California.

However, being a full-time student and keeping track of the organization has not been easy.

“It has been difficult to keep myself involved in the process of the organization with soccer and school work,” Machado said. “It has also been difficult because most of the people who started the original group graduated from high school with me and moved to different parts of the country. But there are still some of my juniors who remain in Colorado now. They have greatly helped along my mom and especially my sister.”

Machal Gradoz ’12, has also been heavily involved with the organization and is currently helping Machado work out the logistics of expanding the program to include colleges – especially since suicide is currently the second leading cause of death among college youth.

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