Teen suicides: Quad-Citians battling epidemic say talking helps

Mikhayla Hughes-Shaw and Elise Edens struggled with deep depression and social anxiety in high school, but they have emerged in a better place, each working to help other young people triumph over their demons.

Hughes-Shaw, a 21-year-old Rock Island native, was crowned the 2018 Miss Iowa in June and will compete Sept. 9 in the 2019 Miss America pageant. Her platform is mental health and suicide prevention.

“People see a crown and think your life has always been perfect, but it’s not the case,” said the University of Iowa student, who’s taking a year off school for pageant activities.

While she was attending Rock Island High School, Hughes-Shaw’s father went to prison and her mom fell seriously ill, and she had to take on more responsibility.