Lincoln Northwest’s Hope Squad raises suicide awareness
September is Suicide Prevention Month
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Suicide Prevention Month continues in Lincoln Public Schools.
The Hope Squad at Lincoln Northwest made up of 18 students set out to make sure their peers know it is okay to seek help. The students have several ways they are getting this message out this month and beyond.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for ages 10-24. The Hope Squad is present in all of LPS, but Lincoln Northwest conducted an interview with the LPS Social Work Coordinator to emphasize the importance of clearing up the stigma around mental health.
Sack the stigma is the phrase the Hope Squad came up with to destigmatize suicidal feelings. The students on the squad hope to be an outlet for anyone struggling and there is someone ready to listen. Members of the Hope Squad say they joined to be a resource for their classmates.
”I just wanted to be an outlet for some people in case they are struggling with mental health, instead of thinking that’s something’s wrong with them they can talk to me, or I can get them help,” Feryal Akpo-Idrissou said.
“Mental health means a lot to me because I know how many people are suffering and I want to be able to spread positivity and show that you can talk about it,” Quinn Waring said.
Social Work Coordinator Andrea Phillips said the most important thing is to get students connected with a trusted adult that can support them with their feelings. She has seen the benefits from the peer-to-peer system that was fostered by the Hope Squad.
“There just is a stigma around mental health and especially around suicide. Research shows there’s nothing harmful about asking someone if they’re considering suicide, if they’re not, they’ll say they’re not, but putting it out there helps to help people feel heard,” Phillips said.
This month, the Hope Squad encouraged students to write a message for people who are struggling so students and staff can see the motivational note as they head to class.
Last year LPS completed over 1,500 suicide assessments to ensure students are being connected with the help they need. The squad will continue to spread their message of hope year-round.
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