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Deven Quintanilla discovered TikTok as a way to express herself in ways she wasn't sure how to before.

“It sounds kind of weird, but putting on makeup when I'm sad kept me from being more sad,” says Deven, an 18-year-old from Colorado Springs who is studying to become an esthetician. “I got up and I did something and I couldn't cry cause I had makeup on. So it kind of made everything better.”

Deven says when she is putting on makeupbe it on herself or her family and friendsshe feels like how a painter must feel when working on their masterpiece. Her makeup skills are apparent in her videos on TikTok, the video-sharing social media platform where Deven has over 19,000 followers. Deven, who graduated from Pine Creek High School, says she was initially drawn to TikTok as a replacement for Vinea place where people could share short, funny videos.

“But now after everything that's happened in 2020,” Deven explained, “[TikTok has] become a huge platform for people to talk about politics, to talk about societal issues...their mental health recovery as well.”

Deven's Story

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Although she frequently posts lighthearted videos of her dancing or showing off new tattoos and makeup, Deven is no stranger to talking about serious subjects in her videos.

“This is a video that doesn’t really matter how many views it gets, just as long as it touches just a couple people,” Deven says in the introduction of a video posted in late July. “From the time I was 12 to 16, I had severe depression, and I have had six suicide attempts in my life.”

In an earlier video, she compiled a photo gallery of happy memoriesschool dances, high school sports, graduationwith the caption “here’s all of the things I would have missed if I killed myself when I was 12 like I planned.”

Deven explained that her parents had gone through a “really nasty divorce.” While she understands it’s common for young people to feel sad when their parents separate, she said she felt “alone...worthless, hopeless.”

It reached the point where Deven was talking about taking her own life in school. “They ended up calling my mom and when she came she was with my grandmother,” Deven recalled. “We all just hugged each other and broke down and cried.”

Deven was in therapy for about three years. She also credits TikTok with giving her the ability to speak candidly about her issues to people who may need help.

“It’s become a very large platform for people to spread positivity, spread help, awareness, and stuff like that,” she said about TikTok. “And sharing my storyas long as it touches one person and helps them and makes them realize that things get betterthat’s all I want to do.”

Deven says she’s had people reach out to her via direct messages on social media to tell her that her videos have given them hope, and it reinforced her desire to keep making videos.

“Every day I tell them that recovery isn’t just a one-time thing. It’s an everyday thing,” Deven said. “Every day is about reminding yourself that things get better, things get easier, and there’s just things worth living for. I wouldn’t lie and say that the process is easy, but I would say it’s worth it, 100%.”

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