A recent congressional briefing found Jordan Burnham co-presenting with Actor Joe Pantoliano, Actress Marcia Gay Harden, and Minnesota Rep. Jim Ramstad. The purpose of the Capital Hill presentation was to promote brain equality, that mental illness would be treated with no more stigma than cancer or diabetes, for example. Jordan relayed an amazing story of survival and hope during the meeting. For those of you that don’t know, after struggling with depression Jordan attempted suicide on Sept. 28, 2007 by jumping from his parent’s ninth floor apartment. In the aftermath of this event, Jordan has joined the ranks of those trying to end the stigma associated with mental illness. During his presentation at the congressional gathering, Jordan asserted that young people need to “replace their feelings… of embarrassment, shame and defeat” with feelings of acceptance. He went on to explain that young people need to be able to come out and discuss suicidal feelings without stigma or feelings of societal shame.
Actor Joe Pantoliano, who after struggling with depression for years founded the non-profit “No Kidding, Me Too!,” whose aim is to eliminate stigma surrounding mental illness, spoke of Jordan Burnham saying, “He’s got an incredible story… I don’t think kids want to hear from old people. He’s representative of this message for his generation.” After his presentation, Jordan was invited by the heads of various national mental health organizations to speak. The director of the federal Center for Mental Health Services, Kathryn Power, said that Jordan is an articulate speaker and that she would be in touch. “I think this is his calling,” Jordan’s mother commented.