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North America
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USA, Youth, Teenager, Depression
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This project tells the story of teenager Jacob Rowe as he copes with depression, self-esteem and acne issues, giving a better overall understanding of the matters young adults often have to address.
Cody Duty

2010 — student award of excellence

As he sits down in his bathroom, he begins to cut. As he makes incisions into his arm, he looks at the blood that flows from his arm. “Whenever I get mad, I cut,” Jacob Rowe said. “Most people don’t like the pain. I like it.” He cuts because he is angry. He wishes things were different. He wants a way out.

Whether you are raised in a more prosperous family or face more economical challenges in a lower class family, it is about taking what you have and making the best of it.

In the spring of 2008 I met 15-year-old high school student, Jacob Rowe trying to find his way in the world. After meeting with him and his mom, I started to photograph Jacob Rowe and what became of him overcoming adversity. As Jacob grows in his life and finds other more positive ways to deal with his pain, I feel that others can learn from his difficult situation.

Jacob’s life puts a face on overcoming the adversities of being a teenager. While many teens struggle with different temptations throughout their life, Jacob faces these issues daily in his everyday life. While he struggles to fit in and be a normal teenager, he also struggles like many, within himself to find who he really is.

Whether the cause be acne, self-esteem or depression, many teens struggle to understand themselves today. According to SADD, (Students Against Drunk Driving) half of young Americans have tried cigarettes by the 12th grade. Not only do 50% of young Americans try cigarettes by the 12th grade, they also try an illicit drug by the time they finish high school. Not only do teens try tobacco and marijuana, in 2005 almost 25% of teens from 12 to 17 got into a fight at school or work.

Throughout the last two years I have continued to follow Jacob through therapy and counseling as he struggles to find himself. As I head into my last semester of school, I want to show how to overcome adversity even in the toughest times by telling Jacob’s story.

Not only are teens affected by tangible problems, they also face some internal problems as well. In 2005, 3.4 million teens from 12-17 reported that they had a MDE, (Major Depressive Episode), in their life. After Jacob was picked up by Bowling Green police he was sent to Rivendell Behavioral Services for psychiatric health. I feel that this is all the more reason to follow Jacob and show the troubles that teens face not only externally but internally as well.

This, I feel, would help give a better understanding of the issues that teens face by telling Jacob’s story as he copes with depression, self-esteem and acne issues, giving a better overall understanding of a teenager.

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“Whenever I get mad, I cut,'’ fourteen-year-old Jacob Row said. “Most people don't like pain, I like it.” To take out frustrations with his life, Jacob will cut his arms. After Jacob’s father died when he was younger, his mother was left with four kids to take care of. When he is not at school, he is isolated to his home in Bowling Green, Ky. To deal with his solitude, Jacob looks for alternative ways to take out his frustrations and fit in with the world. Cody Duty/Alexia Foundation
"I let this girl write on my hands at school today," Jacob said. "I didn't care what she wrote. She was hot. She wrote this though." Cody Duty/Alexia Foundation
Escaping the chaos, Jacob plays Guitar Hero as his mom, Elizabeth yells at his sister, Amber. "Sometimes I'll play all day without even moving," Jacob said. Cody Duty/Alexia Foundation
"You know he's weird," Jacob's classmate, Tess, said. Jacob's friend not pictured in the image, Luke, defended Jacob, but Tess argued that Jacob is weird and he knows it. Cody Duty/Alexia Foundation
"I just wonder sometimes," Jacob said. "I get made fun of at school. They make fun of my acne. I don't have anything in common with my family. I don't know." Cody Duty/Alexia Foundation
"Don't do it Jacob," his mother, Elizabeth said as he spews a 2-liter of soda across the living room while his friends and family watch. Cody Duty/Alexia Foundation
"I didn't even go to sleep last night," Jacob said as he sits in a friend’s car seat while he plays his videogame. Cody Duty/Alexia Foundation
Jacob sits back on a Friday afternoon and smokes a cigarette at a friend's house. Sometimes he would steal cigarettes from his mom or borrow from his friends. "I smoke because it helps me with stress," Jacob said. Cody Duty/Alexia Foundation
Finding a new place to call home, Jacob carries boxes into a mobile home at a trailer park in Bowling Green. Jacob's mother moved him and his family out of the apartment complex for financial reasons, and to get Jacob away from his "friends." "I didn't like the people that he was running around with," Jacob's mother, Elizabeth said. Cody Duty/Alexia Foundation
Jacob gets comfortable as he waits while his psychiatrist takes down notes during a visit. Cody Duty/Alexia Foundation