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PTSA takes steps to prevent suicide

Liza Weidle

The PTSA at Cary North Carolina’s Green Hope High (GHHS) is taking steps to prevent another suicide from happening to one of their students. In September, the group held an awareness walk that raised enough money to have Dar and Dale Emme, Co-Founders of the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program, give a day-long workshop to establish a bridge of links for youth in the community to reach out to when they need help.

The training held on Dec. 4 at Hatcher Grove Academy included students, staff, and parents from GHHS PTSA as well as community members. Dar shared the heart-breaking story of her son’s death from suicide. The Yellow Ribbon program began in 1994 as a result of their son Mike’s friends who started using yellow ribbons and sharing the message of “Please don’t do this. Please don’t try to end your life. Please talk to someone.”

The simplicity of the program and the focus on youth being the foundation to help others is what has made the Yellow Ribbon program one of the most successful outreach efforts in the nation. More than 250,000 people have been touched by this effort with an estimated five million “Ask 4 Help” cards have been distributed.

The wallet-sized cards have the message “I need to use my yellow ribbon” on one side. When a teen is feeling depressed or unable to cope, he simply hands the card over to a trusted adult. The information on the other side of the card includes the suicide prevention lifeline number (1-800-273-8255) and helps the adult know how to respond to the troubled teen by offering the following tips:

  • Stay with the person – you are their lifeline.
  • Listen, really listen. Take them seriously.
  • Get, or call, help immediately.

Next steps for the PTSA include staff and parent training as well as special screening of “To Save a Life” on January 27 from 5-7 p.m. at GHHS auditorium.

Suicide - Shocking Statistics

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 - 24.
  • The fastest-growing group completing suicide is children between the ages of 10 - 14 (a 99% increase from 1980-1997).
  • 90% of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of death. 60% of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression - the most treatable of psychiatric illnesses.
  • Firearms account for 60% of all suicides. Firearms are used in more suicides than in homicides.
  • The U.S. Surgeon General has issued a Call to Action that resulted in the U.S. National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

To learn more about the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program contact Liza Weidle at  Liza Weidle is the NC Mom Congress delegate and author of "Truth about Parenting: Navigating the Elementary Years."