Sui­cide preven­tion

Serve Daily - - INSIDE - By Deb­o­rah Good­man for Serve Daily

HopeSquad.com sub­ject it’s is many. school-based founded one 17.” stu­dents look­out signs by It trag­i­cally then ev­ery is cause Utah Hope of a Ac­cord­ing of far for sui­cide. who high in State fam­ily’s of two too Utah, cri­sis Squads be­com­ing are death school peer com­mon sep­a­rate leg­isla­tive Started taught sui­cide sit­u­a­tions to worst in train lead­er­ship HopeSquad.com, prin­ci­pal stu­dents a how in head­line. bills is night­mare re­al­ity “gate­keep­ers,” Provo ses­sion. “the and to in be Dr. ages pro­gram warn­ing the num­ber in for It’s on 2005 Greg And, cur­rent that 10- too the the a Hud­nall, con­tin­ued in Utah, Ju­nior school most as Hope equiv­a­lent ju­nior well the to grow. Hope as Squad high seven and It Squad and is can other is high the now com­prised pro­gram el­e­men­tary states. schools be found The has of in fourth, of Wash­ing­ton As Tyler was fifth, Hilin­ski, seen State and most sixth foot­ball the re­cently quar­ter­back graders. team in who the for took case the his of­ten vic­tims’ own comes friends life as ear­lier and a com­plete fam­ily. this month, Stu­dents shock sui­cide to who the are adept mem­bers at so­phis­ti­cated of the Hope meth­ods Squad de­signed be­come to no­tice Of­ten, when they their are friends the first may ones be suf­fer­ing. to rec­og­nize Court­ney a prob­lem. Droz, a coun­selor at Springville Ju­nior High, is a for­mer ad­vi­sor over the school’s Hope Squad, which has been a part of the school for the past eight years and cur­rently has thirty mem­bers. “I’ve had many squad mem­bers through the years let me know of a name

of some­thing a stu­dent they'd they’d writ­ten I should said in check a in notebook class, on be­cause or that some­thing our of squad mem­ber heard or saw. Many times those re­fer­rals turn out to be se­ri­ous, and be­cause the Hope Squad mem­ber no­ticed a warn­ing sign and re­ported it, that stu­dent at risk was able to get the help and sup­port they needed from their par­ents, and med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als when needed.”

The Hope Squad at Springville Ju­nior teaches the QPR tech­nique—Ques­tion, Per­suade, Re­fer—to the stu­dents in a day long, off-site train­ing that is thor­ough, yet fun. Us­ing ques­tions, per­sua­sion, and re­fer­ral shows that this pro­gram is not ask­ing stu­dents to be­come ther­a­pists, but to be­come, rather, the ears and eyes of the school and to com­mu­ni­cate any con­cerns they no­tice to their ad­vi­sors. “Pro­tect­ing the Hope Squad stu­dents from burnout, as well as feel­ings of blame, re­spon­si­bil­ity, or any un­due pres­sure is our first pri­or­ity,” says Droz. The ad­vi­sors make sure the stu­dents un­der­stand that they are never re­spon­si­ble for oth­ers’ thoughts or ac­tions. There are con­tin­ued ac­tiv­i­ties through­out the year: as­sem­blies, train­ings, sui­cide aware­ness walks and ser­vice projects. And, if the end-of-year sur­veys are any in­di­ca­tion, the stu­dents are over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive about the ex­pe­ri­ence they’ve had. Hope Squads in the el­e­men­tary schools fo­cus on ed­u­cat­ing the stu­dents about what con­sti­tutes safe and un­safe se­crets, when to in­volve an adult ad­vi­sor and ways to dis­cour­age bul­ly­ing. Sui­cide rates in the area have low­ered since the Hope Squads were started, and Droz has noth­ing but praise for the pro­gram. “I think it also helps with let­ting kids and teens know that it is okay to talk about their own feel­ings, and that sui­cide is not a taboo sub­ject. The more com­fort­able a stu­dent feels about talk­ing about their feel­ings, the less likely they are to be at risk for sui­cide.” For more in­for­ma­tion, call 1-800-273- TALK or visit HOPE4UTAH.com or the Sui­cide Preven­tion Re­source Cen­ter.

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