In May 2023, students from Union Ridge’s Hope Squad organized Hope Week. Hope Week is a school-wide initiative to encourage all students to get involved in suicide prevention and mental health awareness. Hope Squad members along with their advisors choose activities throughout the week to engage students, faculty, parents and their surrounding community to recognize warning signs, reduce the stigma around mental health and create a closer school community. Union Ridge’s activities included lunchtime yoga, handing out popsicles, writing messages of hope in chalk on school grounds, and more.
HOW TO PARTNER WITH USElyssa’s Mission fully funds and implements the evidence-based Signs of Suicide (SOS) program in middle and high schools throughout Illinois. We support the implementation of the SOS program by providing a professional staff member who educates and trains school staff. We assist with all components of the SOS program including planning, training, teaching and follow-up. We provide ongoing support and program materials to our partnering schools free-of-cost! A prerequisite for a partnership is administrator approval; for this reason we require that an administrator attends our planning meeting at the school. We impart three basic requirements upon schools:
- The school agrees to implement the core components of the SOS program in order to maintain the integrity of the program
- The school agrees to administer our true-false pre- and post-tests to students (which we will then grade and analyze as a benefit to the school!)
- The school agrees to complete a brief follow-up survey regarding their program outcomes
What are the Warning Signs?
Did you know that suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15-19 year-olds in the United States and the third leading cause of death for 10-14 year-olds? A far greater number of youths attempt suicide each year. These are shocking statistics, but we also know that most youths who die by suicide suffer from a mental or substance use disorder, or both. It is important to look for signs of substance abuse or depression and get professional help for your child.
–CDC and Prevention
Warning Signs Demanding Immediate Attention:
- Talking about or writing about suicide or death
- Giving direct verbal ques, such as, “I wish I were dead” and “I’m going to end it all”
- Isolating from family and friends
- Giving away prized possessions
- Expressing the belief that life is meaningless
- Exhibiting a sudden or unexplained improvement in mood after being depressed and withdrawn
- Neglecting hygiene
- Dropping out of school or social, athletic, and/or community activities
Additional Warning Signs:
- Frequent tearfulness and/or crying
- Decreased interest in activities or inability to enjoy previously favorite activities
- Hopelessness, helplessness
- Persistent boredom or low energy
- Social isolation
- Increase or decrease in sleeping patterns
- Increase or decrease in eating patterns
- Low self-esteem/guilt
- Difficulty with relationships
- Increased irritability, anger or hostility
- Drug and alcohol use
- Obsessive risk-taking
- Marked personality change
- Absences in school and/or drop in school performance
It’s important to know what to do:
- Be willing to listen.
- Take it seriously. All suicide threats and attempts must be taken seriously or go to the nearest emergency room. Click here for HOTLINES.
- Do not keep the information a secret. You do not have to be certain that someone is suicidal before you talk with another person, preferably a trained adult such as a counselor, social worker, teacher, school nurse, family physician.
- Seek professional help. Encourage the person to see a physician or mental health professional immediately.