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Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District

S.A.D.D. Students Coordinate Suicide Prevention Week

Oct. 7, 2019 -- Heights High social worker Caryl Yoo wants all students to know, “They are important, they matter, and we are a community who cares. Kindness, a smile, or a hug can change someone’s day.” At the end of September, Yoo and the student leaders of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) coordinated activities for a weeklong effort to spread positivity as part of National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month.  

Teachers kicked off the week by providing students with access to critical resources by posting numbers to the National Suicide Hotline (1-800-273-TALK) and the National Crisis Text Line (text home to 741741). Students learned about the Jason Foundation’s app, A Friend Asks, which provides young people with specific strategies if they worry a friend might be suicidal.  Students also watched the video “The Empty Seat” which deals with suicide, though they and their families were warned ahead of time. Students for whom this topic was too sensitive were invited to put their heads down as the video has no verbal audio.

 

On Tuesday, students were invited to write messages of kindness and encouragement on Post-It notes during their lunch periods. These were completed by students representing “every grade, every background, every color, every culture, every family make-up, every sexual identity and expression, and every belief,” according to Yoo, and were mounted on a Wall of Kindness in the hallways and cafeteria.

 

Students were greeted with high fives and positive messages as they walked into school on Friday morning. Yoo wanted to reinforce the idea that, “You really can make a difference in someone’s life by being present, validating their feelings, being kind and positive, and seeking help.”

 

The week concluded with a White-Out at Friday night’s football game, where the team beat Walsh Jesuit 38 to 30. According to Yoo, “Staff and students have expressed appreciation for shedding light on such a serious topic and making sure every student is equipped to help someone in need or knows how to help themselves.”
 
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