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Take action to prevent youth suicide

Jennifer Lagrotteria

Yellow Ribbon suicide awareness and prevention week is September 5 -11. Parents should make the time to learn more about this important initiative and make plans to promote in their child’s school.

Researchers found that one out of every five youths is already thinking about suicide and one out of ten will make an attempt. Dale and Dar Emme, co-Founders Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program said “The old myth that talking about suicide is risky is totally false. Talking is the first step in trying to prevent it. It is the act which may break through the isolation that a suicidal person feels.”

This past year saw 2 suicide deaths at Green Hope High School (NC) The PTSA is taking action by planning their first annual “Save a Life” 5K walk to encourage students to talk about ways to prevent more students from dying from suicide.

The sister of one of the students, Victoria Bennis, is determined to help prevent future tragedies. Victoria says, “Losing my younger brother John to suicide nine months ago has completely changed my life.  It was as if everything that ever mattered to me disappeared.   But I didn’t give up. The first annual “Save A Life” walk is our first step towards promoting a safer environment for our youth and with your help and support we can all work together to make a difference!”

Citizens committed to awareness and prevention

Following the death of another student in early May, a committed group of parents and students met with Green Hope High administrators including Principal Dr. James Hedrick and Coach Stephen Katz to talk about a youth suicide awareness and prevention initiative. As a result, The Green Hope High School’s PTSA formed the Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention Committee (YSAPC) in order to raise awareness about the problem of teen suicide, to educate the Green Hope community about solutions, and to remove barriers that separate teens from help.

The Town of Cary is designating Sept. 5 – 11 as Yellow Ribbon Suicide Awareness and Prevention Week. Mayor Harold Weinbrecht is urging all members of the Cary community to participate in the September 11 Green Hope High PTSA “Save a Life” Walk and events.

Taking action

  • Make presentations at schools, churches, community groups, school board meetings, and PTA meetings. Good videos to show include "No More Tomorrows”, “To Save a Life” and “A Cry for Help.”
  • Hold events such as Yellow Ribbon Week and ask your mayor to declare it Yellow Ribbon Week.
  • Hold a fundraising or awareness event. Team up with survivor groups and groups such as Save the Teens.
  • Inform the media with press releases about your group and events. Create a press kit.
  • Find a mental health professional who is an advocate of the Yellow Ribbon program and use him/her as a media spokesperson when an "expert" is needed to comment.
  • Do research in your town to find the annual number of suicides and the budget for suicide prevention programs.

Got ideas to share? Enter them in the comment section below.

Liza Weidle is the NC Mom Congress delegate and author of "The Truth about Parenting: Navigating the Elementary Years."