In the Spring of 2005, two students at Person High School in North Carolina committed suicide. Everyone around the community wanted to do something about it, but no one was sure exactly how to do it. Many of the students of the school wanted to create plaques, draw, and have a full memorial for the two students. This is when I stepped up to the challenge and said, "Why don't we create something long term, to prevent this from ever happening again?"
I looked up valuable information from the American Foundation for Suicide prevention, as well as local records. In this rural county, there has been at least one suicide per year since the 1970's, usually silenced by the townspeople to retain the Stepford image of the area. So I had a series of ideas.
1) "Out of the Darkness" March - a silent, candlelit march through Main Street of the area.
2) "Into the Light" Rally - a celebration of life and friendship, with local bands, artists, poets, and speakers, on how suicide or this program has affected them and the community.
3) Peer Training - Teens help other teens in noting the signs of depression and suicide, and working with their peers to prevent it.
4) Teacher Training - Concerned parents and teachers are trained to note signs of depression and unhealthy behaviors, and how to help.
5) A financial planning guide - life insurance does not cover a suicide, and families of the victims are already suffering. Why should they financially suffer too? It is a guide of the options to take in such a situation.
6) Offer a Person County Link to the suicide help line (1-800-273-TALK)
Our first year we saved up $1500, and $1000 of it went to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, thereby granting us the link to the suicide help line, as well as the funds for the rally. Money is still being put into the training of the teachers, students, and peers. Since the program started 2 1/2 years ago, we have helped over a hundred troubled teens and there has not been an incidence of suicide between ages 14 - 21, our focused age range.