The BTH organization is committed to “Break the Hold” on mental illness and provide education about suicide prevention.
Our Mission is suicide prevention. We build resilience and reduce the risk of suicide through education, advocacy and raised awareness about depression and other mental health challenges. Our program is focused on teaching Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which is evidence-based training for emotional regulation. DBT uses mindfulness strategies to manage emotions, increasing a persons tolerance to negative emotions.
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The official Instagram account for the Break the Hold Foundation. Suicide Prevention | Mental Health Awareness & Resilience through education.
BTH was formed as an outpouring of grief and love following the loss of Brian T. Halloran on January 23, 2018
A beloved son, brother, family member, friend, teammate, and member of our tight-knit community in Pleasantville, NY. A community likely just like yours.
Learn About Brian’s Journey
Personal memories of Brian’s life by family and friends
To my dear son, Brian Thomas Halloran:
How does a father describe or memorialize his recently deceased middle son? Well, as hard as that may be, I am going to try. I get my strength from my son, Brian.
Brian was a great young man with many talents, many friends and a loving family. In other words, he was a son just like anybody’s son. Brian had a great presence to him, was a joy to be around and had a smile that would light up a room. He is my middle son, and will forever be 19 years old, handsome, strong, caring and full of love for life. Unfortunately, and with much family and community pain, Brian passed away on January 23, 2018 from depression by suicide. Brian was a freshman at the University of South Carolina, a Capstone Scholar Award winner, when he plummeted to an emotional low that we were not fully aware of. Before we knew it, a police officer knocked on our door with news that would alter our lives forever. He said, “Mr. Halloran the South Carolina Police have notified us that your son Brian has committed suicide.” The moment seems to be stuck in time and in my head as I continually replay the conversation. First thought….and most hopeful thought – are you sure it is Brian? Second thought is how can I survive this information, what can I do? Third thought, how am I going to tell the rest of my family, Brian’s mother and two brothers, one of whom is away at college? What am I to do with the rest of my life?
That evening and everyday since, I would categorize as a horribly sad movie that does not stop playing. The reality of our situation is extremely difficult to bear and terribly hard to understand. How does one accept the fact that this brilliant young man, a light in our lives is gone by his own hand, because he was in so much pain and confusion at that particular moment? Any attempt to rationalize the situation leads to great frustration and sadness, as we all know that Brian was not thinking rationally at that time. He felt there was no way out of the pain and confusion and that it would never end. This horrible disease – “depression” can break down one’s resilience over time and can turn rational thought into irrational behavior.
I am here to say, LOUDLY, things can change. Things can get better. Fight for your place in this world and for your own happiness. Trust someone! Reach out – we won’t let you down! I will fight alongside you. I will walk with you in this fight. It is not a fight to lose, but is one to win. The odds are in your favor and the rewards are immense. Never say it’s too late! It is never too late! Not when we have each other and we are still on God’s earth. Brian would not encourage others to take a similar path, he would conversely and aggressively encourage others to fight on, that his choice is not the right choice but a choice made out of hopelessness.
I am here to provide hope for all those suffering.
To that end, we as a family and we as a community are fighting back and focusing our efforts on being that helping hand. We know what you are going through as we have lived it. We have established the BTH Foundation to help raise the conversation, to educate our teens and young adults, and to advocate for additional resources to fight the affliction of mental illness. We need to unite in this mission of mental wellness. You are all in our thoughts.
Brian Halloran (father)
My son, Brian, is the middle child of 3 boys. He had been experiencing anxiety and depression the last two years of high school. Depression, like other health issues, effects the entire family and together we supported Brian.
Losing a child has to be one of the worst things a parent can experience in life. Losing a child to suicide complicates the situation. There are many layers, so much guilt, and many unanswered questions like “what could have I done differently?” Your main role as a parent is to protect your children and I felt like I failed Brian because I could not help him feel better.
What I have come to learn about suicide is that it is not a rational decision. Depression is an illness and it takes away a persons ability to think rationally. Brian did not want to die; he wanted to end his pain.
Unfortunately, depression and anxiety are uncomfortable topics. We need to change this mentality and make mental health okay to discuss. Until we remove this stigma, young people will be ashamed to speak about their issues, unwilling to get help and continue to make unhealthy choices such as self-medicating with drugs and/or alcohol.
After Brian passed, many children shared their stories of how Brian would take time from his friends to sit and talk with them. They said Brian just knew when they were suffering. They mentioned how his smile would brighten their day and give them hope. Through the BTH Foundation, we want to bring hope to others that are struggling. Together as a community we can remove the stigma associated with depression and anxiety.
Someone recently thanked me for bringing to light the importance of mental health. She said, “You have been blessed with a wonderful gift of being able to make people feel comfortable and included, but you have also been handed the worst in life – the loss of a child.” So what gets me through each day? My faith, family and friends.
Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, said it best in his book “No Death, No Fear”: “When we lose someone we love, we should remember that the person has not become nothing. “Something” cannot become “nothing,” and “nothing” cannot become “something.” Science can help us understand this, because matter cannot be destroyed—it can become energy. And energy can become matter, but it cannot be destroyed. In the same way, our loved one was not destroyed; he has just taken on another form. That form may be a cloud, a child or the breeze. We can see our loved one in everything."
I believe Brian is with me every day. I feel Brian’s energy. My other two sons are genetically and spiritually part of Brian. We will be able to move forward from this tragedy by focusing on the good: the Break the Hold (BTH) Foundation, our friends and family.
Please remember to BE KIND. You never know what someone else is going through.
Jolina Halloran (mother)
“This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you”
Thank you everyone for gathering here today. All of your love and support has been very helpful during this extremely difficult time for me and my family. Brian was the best little brother I could have ever asked for. He was smart, handsome, athletic, but most of all he was a caring and loyal person. I don’t think many of you know, but Brian was exceptionally smart and by far the smartest Halloran, earning a 3.8 GPA in his first semester at school and scoring a 33 on his first attempt at the ACT—a much better grade than my combined super score of a 28. Brian was a natural athlete, starting on the varsity football team that made it to the NYS semi-finals—something he took great pride and joy in. He was tough as nails and while he was probably 15-20 pounds lighter than me I have no doubt that he could kick my ass and neither did he. Although Brian put on a tough front, deep down he was an extremely soft and caring person. He absolutely adored our dog Bella, felt at home with all of his “skid row” friends, and loved growing up with all of the kids in the crew that took numerous vacations during February break.
Brian struggled over the last few years. The people close to him knew this, while the majority of others figured he was a normal teenage kid. Mental illness is a REAL thing and is a TERRIBLE disease. While I believe everyone gets upset and will even experience depression on a minor level, there are many others, like Brian, who feel alone, sad, and helpless every second and every day of their life. You could have everything in the world and still not feel whole. I can’t express how crucial it is for us as a society to develop an open line of communication with our loved ones. Once individuals reach the adolescent stage, many are less willing to open up and it becomes an up-hill battle. Please take the time EVERY day to reach out to your loved ones and speak to them.
I usually took Brian out to get lunch before I went back to school to check in and let him know that I was there for him. However, over this past break Brian seemed better for the first time in a long time—he even was talking about the future and getting an apartment with two of his buddies at school. I did not want to burden him, and bring him down by asking if he was alright and how he was feeling—as this made him upset at points. So, instead I let him be and had not spoken to him since he left to head back to South Carolina. The first time I texted him was last Tuesday night and against my knowledge, the message never went through as Brian had already passed away. I would do anything in this world to speak to my little brother again, tell him that I love him, that it will get better, and that I will do everything in my power to help him get through this.
Brian kept to himself and never put others down for making a mistake when many people would. I think Brian knew that no one, excuse my language “fucked up” or made a mistake on purpose and he sympathized with this. No one wants to get in trouble, no one wants to be unhappy—we all need to be a little more like Brian and rather than criticizing someone for messing up and making a stupid decision, ask them what happened and do your best to try and better the situation.
Brian, I wish we could start over and go back to the days when we were both in elementary school, fighting over who got to play on the Xbox, playing ping pong in the basement, and taking family vacations to Long Beach Island. I want to go back to our road trip to Charleston, I want to drive you to Tim’s house, I want to go to the gym with you, I want to talk to you at 2am when everyone else at home was already asleep. I wasn’t always the best older brother, but I want you to know that I loved you greatly and wish that I could’ve taken some of the pain away from you. As we got older it made me really happy to see how close you and Jack got as you were only two grades apart. You were an amazing role model to him and it made me smile every time I heard you guys laughing over some joke or something you did as you passed by his room to go take a shower.
I didn’t know how I would react after I saw Brian in the casket for the first time. Initially, I completely broke down and felt like I couldn’t breathe or stand. However, one of the first things I noticed was how peaceful he looked. Spending time there with him as a family brought some comfort to me as I know that he is finally at peace and rid himself of all the pain and suffering he has faced for so many years.
To quote the poem “The Day God Took You Home” A million times I’ve needed you, A million times I’ve cried, If love alone could have saved you, you never would have died. In life I loved you dearly, in death I love you still. In my heart you hold a place, no one else can ever fill. It broke my heart to lose you, but you didn’t go alone, part of me went with you, the day God took you home.
I will always have two brothers and I will think about you every single day. I wish I could have spent more time with you, but those will always be the best 19 years of my life. You were the light of my life, my best friend, a genuine person. You never beat around the bush. If you disliked someone you let them know that you did not like them, and if you loved someone, you gave them your undisputed love and affection.
I cried the day I dropped you off at South Carolina because I was worried about you and could see the fear in your eyes. However, I am so grateful that I got to spend 10 days driving down there, sharing a room, and experiencing the south with you. I will cherish these memories forever.
To my family, this is the worst imaginable thing that could ever happen to us. And here we are, standing together, persevering through this horrific time. This is going to be a very long and difficult road, but we’ll take it one day at a time and get through it together, as a family.
I will never know exactly why Brian had to leave us so soon and that is maybe one of the hardest things to wrap my head around. But I know from here on out, I am going to do my best to spread more love and to help others. You NEVER know what someone else is going through, so try your best to be a nice person and shed some light on this world—life is too short.
I am going to miss my little brother so so so much. I wish I could have saved you, Brian. I’ll continue to speak to you every day and I hope that sometimes you’ll speak back to me.
To quote Don Mcclean’s song, Vincent Starry Starry Night, “This
world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.” Rest easy Brian I hope you’re up there with
Grandma, Grandpa, and Quentin—please take care of each other. You really were such a stud. I love you, Bri.
I have been asking myself – How does God expect a 16 year-old young man to describe the love he has for his 19 year old brother who has recently passed into eternity? How can I speak of Brian and speak of the tremendous loss that I feel.?
Well, even in a moment like this when loss and sorrow is all we feel. I want to honor and celebrate my great brother Brian’s life. Brian meant so much to me, unfortunately more than he will ever know in this world……….however I feel that maybe he does know now. I love you Brian. I cherished our time together. You meant the world to me. I looked up to you and wanted to follow your lead.
I know that you loved me too Brian. You always were there in case I needed anything and you were always loyal and protective. I am sometimes confused by all that has happened but know that you cherished life and fought very hard each and every day to find happiness. I am so very proud of you.
I loved your compassion and emotion, you were a dedicated brother that at times could be emotional or even volatile. But what I mean by that is that you wore your emotions on your sleeve and you were fully vested in anyone that you cared for. It was all or nothing with you Brian. If you were on his team, he was there for you in his entirety. Nothing was too much.
Brian, you are a freakin stud. I would often be approached by people, mostly women (pause)– that would tell me how good looking my brother was. Brian jokingly told me on several occasions – that he was used to the physical accolades. He also joked about a couple of times when he and I were walking together and we would get “cat calls” from a car of girls going by. The Halloran boys!
Brian, I could not have asked for a better big brother. I know that you never wanted to hurt me, you just needed to leave a little early. I am certain that you are in a much better place now and are at peace. That is all I ever wanted for you Brian – HAPPINESS AND PEACE!
I cherish our time together. I will live my life for both you and I. You are forever with me in my thoughts, actions and in my heart. I know that we will be together again and we will laugh and hold each other the way loving brothers do.
Talk to me, keep me close and I know that you will watch over me and our family. We are in your hands and will live in your light.
I love you Big Bro!!!! There are no words that can capture my love for you. I feel so lucky to have had 16 years with you. I will live my life counting my blessings for our time together rather than regretting the time missed.
Be well. Rest in Peace! Until I see you again on the other side. Say hi to grandma and grandpa, and hold them tight. I love you Brian.
Your brother Jack.
BTH provides resources and educational programming on mental wellness to high school and middle school youth, young adults, family members, educators, and community members throughout Westchester and nearby communities.
Programming will focus on
Educating communities to be better informed about suicide.
Raising awareness of the warning signs of those most vulnerable to suicide.
Empowering young people to have the courage to speak up.
Learn more about each of our initiatives by clicking on them below
- BTH sponsors Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT Steps-A) instruction for high school students at Pleasantville High School (Pleasantville, N.Y.) and Alexander Hamilton High School (Elmsford, N.Y.). BTH sponsors the instructor/facilitator to guide the students through this course which focuses on mindfulness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance and interpersonal skills allowing all to develop needed coping skills. BTH will be expanding into other school districts in the near term and is open to discussing the BTH 360’ educational platform with all. BTH can help to provide the syllabus, instructors and general best practices to launch a program in your district. Get involved, be progressive in your approach – let’s change the world, one school at a time.
- BTH sponsors Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT Steps-A) for all 5th graders at Pleasantville Middle School. Research has shown that it is desirable to reach people at a young age as anxiety and depression can often surface before the age of 14 years old.
- BTH looks to expand this programming to other, local middle schools and eventually elementary school students.
- BTH can provide the syllabus, instructor and best practices to any district interested.
- BTH offers parental workshops that emphasize many of the DBT concepts taught to students.
- Workshop is titled, “Going Places Skillfully,” a navigational tool for improved parenting. This workshop allows parents to respond in a more thoughtful, caring manner as opposed to reacting emotionally and excitedly. It provides parents with the skills and perspective to respond positively to their children and all of life’s challenges. A workshop that is valuable for all, not just parents.
- Currently, BTH sponsors 4 parental workshops per academic calendar year at Pleasantville High School. Workshops are offered in the evening from 7:00-9:00 and are open to the public (not exclusive to Pleasantville parents). BTH is hoping to expand this program to surrounding communities. Please send an inquiry if interested.
- Staff training (teachers, staff, administrators, youth officers, guidance counselors, etc.) is sponsored by BTH.
- BTH hires private clinicians to facilitate the workshops to provide necessary skills to staff.
- Teachers and staff are stressed, overworked and tired. These workshops allow for the development of coping skills to better prepare staff for all the challenges of working with children and their parents.
- Pleasantville school district – BTH will sponsor 4 workshops per academic calendar year. All high school, middle school and elementary school staff will receive four, 2 hour sessions of DBT-type instruction. This will better prepare all for the rigors of their profession.
- Alexander Hamilton High School – BTH sponsored 1 workshop in the spring of 2019 and is in the planning process to schedule additional workshops with the goal of expanding this offering into the middle school and elementary schools.
- BTH is in talks to expand this programming to additional school districts. There is a need and BTH will fill that need with funding and programming.
- BTH holds community awareness events on a regular basis.
- BTH annual “Raise the Volume” Benefit/Gala – Feb. 2, 2019 (400 attendees)
- Screening of the film – Suicide: The Ripple Effect, Feb. 13, 2019 (200 attendees)
- Screening of the film – “Resilience,” May 21, 2019 (100 attendees)
- BTH annual “Into the Light” walk, June 9, 2019 – 4:30AM at Pleasantville High School (700 attendees)
- BTH volleyball tournament at PHS (200 attendees)
- Annual College transition seminar at Pleasantville High School (135 attendees); BTH will be expanding this program to other local high schools.
- Knollwood Country Club – Suicide Prevention Fundraiser, Sep. 14, 2019 (315 attendees)
- Book Conversation with Dr. Jennifer Ashton, Good Morning America Medical Correspondent – Sep. 26, 2019, “Life After Suicide: Finding Courage, Comfort, & Community After Unthinkable Loss"
BTH has established a scholarship in Brian's honor to a graduating student from Pleasantville High School that demonstrates a commitment, passion, and volunteerism for mental health advocacy. Information is available from school administrators and teachers.
2019 Scholarship Recipient – Katie Moore of Pleasantville High School
Justin Pearlman also received a 2019 Special Recognition Award for support of BTH.
2020 Scholarship Recipient – Jade Farina of Pleasantville High School
Lauren Drillock and Amber Alirahi received a 2020 Special Recognition Award for support of BTH.
Tackle your fear
Help prevent suicide
Founder, Brian Halloran establishes the Break the Hold Foundation the day following his son’s passing from depression by suicide.
BTH hosts its 1st annual mental wellness seminar at PHS to educate seniors about mental illness warning signs and available resources as they transition to college.
BTH holds their 1st annual “Into the Light” walk. Approximately 1,000 people participated to raise awareness about youth mental wellness, rising at 4:30AM to make the walk from the dark into the light.
October 16, 2018 – Dialectical Behavior Therapy instruction introduced at Pleasantville High School.
BTH provides a grant to PHS to sponsor a DBT instructor for the 2018-2019 academic year. All 9th grade students will receive 16 hours of instruction and skill development. BTH will be expanding this programming in the near future.
Mental Health Association of Westchester becomes BTH’s fiscal sponsor, providing our 501 (C) 3 designation as well as operational and financial reporting responsibilities.
BTH 360’is a comprehensive educational platform designed to provide skill development to better manage emotional volatility. Dialectical Behavior Therapy instruction for students; Going Places Skillfully Parental Workshops and DBT type skill development seminars for all staff.
BTH sponsors the screening of the film, “Suicide: the Ripple Effect” starring Kevin Hines at the Jacob Burns Film Center, Pleasantville, N.Y. Approximately 220 viewers attended and panel discussion followed.
BTH sponsors, coordinates and facilitates DBT training for all staff at Alexander Hamilton High School in Elmsford, N.Y. One 2-hour session.
BTH launches the first of its instructional workshops that will be offered four times per academic year.
Resilience is a documentary on how adverse childhood conditions (drugs, alcohol, abuse, neglect, etc.) can affect a person’s mental well-being later in life.
Approximately 700 participants walked at 4:30AM to raise awareness and to strengthen community bonding.
BTH has enlisted a team of qualified, experienced, local clinicians to provide initial, pro bono counseling to determine needs and establish a plan of action which includes local referrals.
All 5th graders will receive 10 hours of DBT Steps-A instruction and skill development.
September 15, 2019 – BTH initiates staff workshops for all staff in the Pleasantville School District.
All staff members will receive 8 hours of emotional skill training and development.
BTH sponsors Dr. Jennifer Ashton – Book Discussion “Life after Suicide"
October 1, 2019 – BTH launches DBT educational programming for students at Alexander Hamilton High School
BTH launches DBT educational programming for students at Alexander Hamilton High School in Elmsford, N.Y. All 9th grade students will receive 15 hours of DBT Steps-A instruction and emotional skill development.
BTH was a co-host and panel member of the documentary Wrestling Ghosts. Wrestling Ghosts is a raw, intimate, and heart-opening documentary about parenting, childhood trauma and healing.
2nd annual BTH Scholarship given to students that showed commitment to raising mental health awareness.
BTH offers its second annual parental workshops that will be held four times per academic year. Topics include mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance and conflict resolution.
Navigating the challenges of parenting can be overwhelming in the best of times. During the pandemic, stress, burnout and uncertainty has left many parents at their breaking point. This series of workshops will provide you with insights, skills and practices to help you better manage your pandemic parenting pitfalls as well as prepare you for the next new “normal.”
Community members walked to honor those we lost to suicide and to promote emotional wellness. Together we can reduce the stigma of mental illness.
Through the lens of mindfulness and compassion we will cover parenting skills and support topics tailored to specific age groups.
BTH offers its 3rd annual parental workshops that will be held four times per academic year. Topics include mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance and conflict resolution.
5th Annual Into the Light Walk | June 11 at 4:00 AM | Pleasantville H.S. (60 Romer Ave., Pleasantville, NY)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255) or Text “TALK" to 741-741
If you need immediate assistance or if this is an urgent situation, please call 911.
Westchester also supports a Crisis Prevention and Response Team through St.Vincent’s Hospital at (914-925-5959).
BTH Referral Service – BTH offers a team of clinicians to provide pro bono initial, triage counseling for individuals to help locate the appropriate resources and to establish a plan of action to support all in their search for emotional wellness.
If you are considering enlisting the help of a licensed clinical therapist, the BTH referral service will listen to your concerns and provide you with contact information for Westchester County based therapists who are well-trained and highly skilled. This is a good place to begin the process of addressing the needs of you and your family. Finding the right clinician can be influenced by numerous factors: fees, location, expertise, specialty, practice methods and personal fit. If there is a need for this service, please reach out to the clinicians listed below. Please mention that you accessed their information on the BTH website or have been referred by BTH.
BTH Clinical Team / Contact information :
Wade Anderson PhD
Carla Lisio, LCSW
Heidi Knoll, LCSW
Dr. Alicia Murray, M.D.
Finding a good therapist for you and/or your family can take time. We hope that you reach out to gets started. We are here to help!
Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health supports an array of services for youth and their families. For a comprehensive listing of all that is available, please click on the link below:
Photos of Brian, Past BTH Foundation Events, BTH volunteers and supporters
- Into the Light Walk 2018
- Into the Light Walk 2019
- Raise the Volume Benefit 2019
- Screening of “Suicide – the Ripple Effect”
- Foley’s & BTH “Title Town Celebration” 2018
- Into the Light Walk 2021
- Senior Day 2021 | Pville Varsity Footbal
Into the Light Walk 2021
Senior Day 2021 | Pville Varsity Football
The BTH Foundation
Our mission, BTH 360', 2018 accomplishments, and 2019 goals.9
Inspirational words at the start of the Into-the-Light-Walk
June 10, 2018
BTH “Raise the Volume" Benefit | Co-founders Brian & Jolina Halloran
February 2, 2019
Why We Need to Talk About Depression | Kevin Breel
November 17, 2018
Johnny Dorio | Taft School | Enter password: Johnny
May 8, 2018