‘Cobra Kai star’ discusses suicide with teens

Xolo Maridueña, a co-star of the show “Cobra Kai,” discusses anxiety and suicide prevention at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley Wednesday, June 20. "Everyone Deserves Mental Wellness” is a series in which celebrities and mental health professionals speak to youth to help destigmatize mental health issues. Eddy Martinez/The Signal.
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Notable musicians, actors and health professionals in the SCV are addressing the stigma around mental health at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley over the next few weeks.

Last week, Karli Webster, a contestant on season 13 of NBC’s “The Voice,” and Certified Grief Specialist Sharon Brubaker, discussed how Webster uses her songwriting to combat anxiety.

The talk was the first of a four-part mental health discussion series titled: #NoStigmasAllowed “Everyone Deserves Mental Wellness,” which aims to help children destigmatize mental health issues.

On Wednesday, Xolo Maridueña, a co-star of the show “Cobra Kai,” took time to discuss suicide prevention with SCV teens, which provided him the opportunity to speak about personal experiences and the importance of making sure one feels comfortable in their own skin.

Xolo Maridueña, a co-star of the show “Cobra Kai,” discusses anxiety and suicide prevention at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley Wednesday, June 20. “Everyone Deserves Mental Wellness” is a series in which celebrities and mental health professionals speak to youth to help destigmatize mental health issues. Eddy Martinez/The Signal.

“Even now, it’s a little uncomfortable to talk about,” said Maridueña, as he spoke about a high-school friend who attempted suicide.

“But, that’s why we’re here to talk about it” said fellow speaker Syreeta Butler to the crowd of a little more than a dozen.

Maridueña remembers playing basketball and getting ice cream with his good friend days before his friend attempted to take his own life with antidepressants.

“The biggest thing to know is nobody knew it,” the actor said, making it nearly impossible to identify the warning signs.

Maridueña said he felt like a terrible friend because he didn’t do enough to make his friend feel as though he could open up about his feelings.

Maridueña added that after talking to adults, friends and professionals, he was able to reassure himself that he’s a decent person. However, he made a call to action and took steps to ensure that others would never feel as low as his friend did.

“Cobra Kai” is about bullying and how to protect yourself and fight back, Butler said. Even though this talk is about suicide, the two subjects are connected.

“I’d love to say that when you’re grown ups, the insults on social media and bullying stops,” Butler said. “Unfortunately, that is not the case at all,” and in fact, it might even get worse because its more sophisticated and not as blatant.

Butler, a life, marriage and family therapist, said society has created a culture based on people fighting or bad-mouthing each other.

Even though public figures aren’t necessarily showing it, Maridueña said being kind and supportive is “super important” because you never know what could put somebody over the edge.

Both speakers were adamant to never let anyone make them feel uncomfortable about being themselves.

“It’s hard,” Maridueña said. “It’s not a bad thing to be uncomfortable with yourself; there’s adults who aren’t comfortable with themselves.

“It can take a lifetime, or it can be as easy as hearing you’re cool,” he said. “Whatever it is, just make sure you’re taking the steps to be happy.”

It’s a lot easier said than done, Butler said. “It isn’t black and white. There’s all these other components that are interconnected.”

There’s no easy way to navigate being a teenager, but Butler said no feeling that you have, and no situation that you’re going through will last forever.

“You will move through all of those feelings,” she said. “It’s as simple as talking about it. Part of breaking the stigma is talking about our pain.”

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