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8 NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2015 VIPAWARD Dallas has become a world-class city yet tonight an estimated 5000 children and their families will not have a safe place to sleep. Heartbreak to Heroine AFTER THE DEATH OF HER 19-YEAR-OLD SON VANITA HALLIBURTON BECAME A CHAMPION FOR CHANGE IN SOCIETYS ATTITUDE ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS. NOW WERE TALKING. Few parents can imagine a tragedy worse than the death of their child. Vanita Halliburton not only had to endure such a tragedy but also had to exist with the reality that her son took his own life. Grant Halliburton was a gifted young artist and musician who graduated from Plano West Senior High School in 2005 and went on to attend the University of Texas at Aus- tin. His passion for music and art accompanied by his genuine warmth and affec- tion for the people in his life assured him a lasting place in the hearts of many. But Grant also had the demons of bipolar disorder and depression fighting inside him to take con- trol of his life and destroy his young adulthood. Ultimately the bad guys won the battle and at the age of 19 Grant jumped off of a 10-story building to his death. The Halliburton family had known for five years that Grant was struggling with some form of mental illness when they dis- covered he had been cutting himself in the eighth grade. The Halliburtons did everything in their power to get help for Grant using every possible resource they could muster to help him find his way back. However his symptoms continued to worsen over time and Halliburton says they just simply did not have all of the information about how to help Grant or even know where to look for it. She attributes this dearth of resources to the stigma associated with mental illness. After Grants death in November of 2005 Halliburton expe- rienced all of the heartache and shock one associates with this type of tragedy. She just wanted answers as to how this could have happened to her bright and talented son who seemed to have such a promising future before him. While searching for answers Halliburton discovered what a silent epidemic mental illness in teens had become. The American Psychiatric Associa- tion estimates that one in five young people in the United States suffers from a diagnosable treatable mental illness. Yet nearly two-thirds of them get little or no help. Halliburton was deter- mined to bring this rampant problem out of the dark and into the light. This type of situation should not happen to someone elses child simply because a parent could not find the resources to save his or her childs life. Halliburton says At the same time that I was wrestling with the devastating grief of losing my son I felt this fierce desire welling up inside a desire to do something to help other families and other young peo- ple find a better ending to their stories than ours. Thus the Grant Halliburton Foundation was born in early 2006. Halliburton using her background in marketing and adver- tising has created an organization determined to eliminate the mystery surrounding mental illness and therefore to help pre- Vanita says of Grant Music and art were his passions but to Grant people were the most important part of life. He was known for his creativity his warmth his easy smile and his love of people. His high school classmates voted him Most Likely to Become a Recording ArtistandCoolest Kid on Campus. At the same time that I was wrestling with the devastating grief of losing my son I felt this fierce desire welling up inside a desire to do something to help other families andotheryoungpeoplefindabetter ending to their stories than ours. - Vanita Halliburton By Melissa Chaiken Section Editor is a website provided by the Grant Halliburton Foundation that features a searchable database of mental health providers and resources in NorthTexas.