Student Council’s Suicide Prevention Campaign

By Mallory Sale, Reporter

Student Council’s sign on the bridge, featuring the yellow semicolon, similar to their bracelets! All photos by Mallory Sale.

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE DISCUSSES SUICIDE AND MENTIONS MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY WHO HAVE TAKEN THEIR LIFE. IF YOU STRUGGLE WITH SUICIDAL THOUGHTS PLEASE REACH OUT TO THE RESOURCES BELOW:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255 and https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

PRHS Social Worker: Debbie Sell, [email protected]

PRHS Sources of Strength Sponsor and Assistant Principal: Kendra Schlieker, [email protected]

YOU ARE LOVED!!!!!!

The town of Monument and surrounding communities have had too much experience with suicide in the last decade, and so much has been done to deal with it, but how can students help?

With the month of September being recognized as National Suicide Prevention Month, Palmer Ridge’s Student Council made an effort to address the student body about this problem. The Bear Truth interviewed StuCo executive and Student Body President, Riley Jones (12), about her decision to do this campaign and why it is important.

“I definitely think it’s important, especially right now, to let students know that it’s gonna get better. What [Student Council is] trying to do is an upstream prevention where we approach it in a less triggering way,” said Jones when speaking on the campaign. “We had StuCo members line up with posters and bracelets after school, just handing [the bracelets] out and telling people about the meaning behind it.”

A punny sign on the bridge, courtesy of Friends of Rachel, Sources of Strength, and StuCo!

The bracelets spoken of are yellow, the color of the suicide prevention ribbon, with a semicolon– signifying a continuation. These were handed out during what Jones called “Walkways” and both cohort A and B lunches. According to various StuCo members, they were well-received!

During the 2018-19 school year, there was a tragedy in District 38. A 9th-grade student at Lewis-Palmer High School took their life, along with a sophomore here at Palmer Ridge. This caused tremendous pain for many of their family and friends, and many people realized that something needed to be done to help struggling kids. The next year, the Student Council put out their first training session with the SEW Coalition. This happened during the fall and spring of the 2019-20 year and had an amazing turnout. It was clear that students recognized a call to action.

Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus, this training could not be held this year while staying within safety guidelines, but Lewis-Palmer Middle School Student, Sean Eells (8), had an idea. He got into contact with the SEW coalition after talking to his brother, former Student Body President Ryan Eells, and asked them how to execute a campaign at his school. Soon after, he contacted Riley Jones and asked to do a joint campaign at LPMS and PRHS. Jones was ecstatic to hear this and she and StuCo got to work immediately; they designed the bracelets and gave many to Eells, who passed them out and put posters up on windows at LPMS. These actions help with the whole idea of an upstream preventative measure.

As many students know, this semester has been particularly harsh on social activities, and the Student Council has some ways to help. With the Homecoming dance being deemed unsafe, Palmer Ridge put on a series of safe HOCO activities to bring the school together. “Yeah, we’ve put on the homecoming events, and right now we’re working on Harvest of Love, which we do every year, and I think it’ll be a great way to bring the community together while keeping everyone safe,” said Jones when asked about upcoming events.

Marley Wheeler, Student Council Sponsor and PRHS teacher, shared a touching story about an encounter between StuCo and a student. “[Student Council was] walking back inside after our walkway on Monday, and a student came up and asked what we were doing, so Riley [Jones] told them about what it was, and the student said ‘Oh so it’s for people like me!’ and Riley [Jones] handled it so professionally and well,” said Wheeler.

Situations like this are so telling of how vital suicide prevention is to a community like Monument. Two years ago, with the suicides of two Lewis-Palmer district students, parents at LPHS and PRHS held signs saying “free hugs” in front of the school. Some tragedies have occurred over the past few years, and this campaign strives to prevent them in the future. With PRHS´s own students organizing events like these, the Bear Truth staff hopes that more kids will feel able to come forward about their struggles or seek help.