Hope Squad prepares for National Suicide Prevention Week to educate community

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Amanda Hare

Yellow ribbons adorn poles and trees around and throughout the school. In preparation for National Suicide Prevention Week, Hope Squad members tied the ribbons and posted informational flyers. The Hope Squad has also planned activities and dress-up days for the week, which occurs from Sunday, Sept. 6, to Saturday, Sept. 12. “Students should dress up to support prevention of suicide and other mental issues that many of their friends and family face on a daily basis,” Hope Squad teacher Tony Cooper said. “This is a community problem, and it will take the entire community to solve it.”

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With National Suicide Prevention Week coming up, the Hope Squad class has worked together to spread awareness and support of the prevention of suicide and other mental issues.

National Suicide Prevention Week, which occurs from Sunday, Sept. 6, to Saturday, Sept. 12, is held annually to educate the public and to highlight suicide prevention strategies, including helping people see the warning signs that may be present in people they know. In preparation of this week, the school’s Hope Squad has created activities and dress-up days for students.

“We will chalk the sidewalks and tie yellow ribbon around trees and the poles on Tuesday,” Hope Squad teacher Tony Cooper said. “On Wednesday, we will open the school doors for the students. On Thursday, we will have students write down what stresses them out on paper and then let them shred it. Friday, we are making positive heart messages to put on every car in the parking lot.”

The Hope Squad also created four dress-up days for students for this week. Tuesday, Sept. 8 is tacky tourist day. Hope Squad encourages students to wear yellow on Wednesday and camouflage on Thursday. On Friday, Sept. 11, students will wear purple in support for the military.

We must remove the stigma of not wanting to talk about suicide and mental health disorders. People are suffering in silence and are afraid to seek help because of the fear of judgement from the community around them.”

— Tony Cooper

“Students should dress up to support the prevention of suicide and other mental issues that many of their friends and family face on a daily basis,” Cooper said. “This is a community problem, and it will take the entire community to solve it.”

Junior two-year Hope Squad member Jordyn Leggiere said she’s seen students feel more welcome at school during past National Suicide Prevention weeks.

“Everyone seems to have a brighter mindset, and they have fun participating in the dress-up days,” Leggiere said. “It brings us all together a little more.”

Leggiere said she feels this week is important to acknowledge.

“It brings light to a topic not many people are comfortable addressing,” Leggiere said. “It makes everyone realize they aren’t alone and that they are strong enough to keep going.”

The Hope Squad class was created last year to help prevent suicides and help students’ mental health.

“Hope Squad has promoted healthy self-care actions amongst teens who struggle with self-harm and those who don’t,” junior first-year Hope Squad member Meghan Gordon said. “I love how they have such a commitment to spreading a positive message through posters, announcements, and events, even if they are not always accepted by the student body.”

Through Hope Squad and National Suicide Prevention week, Cooper hopes to reduce the disapproval and judgement of mental health disorders.

“We must remove the stigma of not wanting to talk about suicide and mental health disorders,” Cooper said. “People are suffering in silence and are afraid to seek help because of the fear of judgement from the community around them.”