SHERIDAN — On Oct. 12 Sheridan High School students, teachers, staff and other community members came together to participate in Sources of Strength, a suicide awareness training led by Dan Adams and constructed by the Sheridan Suicide Prevention Coalition.
“We had about 40 students turn up. It was great, it was a beautiful day,” said head Sheridan High School counselor Mike Swan said. “The students we got there were really engaged.”
Swan also explained how students were selected to participate in the program.
“We targeted students that we thought would be great leaders, but we also opened it up to the whole student body so that everyone could participate,” he said.
The premise of this program is students who may be contemplating suicide usually talk to friends rather than adults. The program is not designed to train the teens to be counselors or psychologists, but to teach them how to help a friend who is struggling with suicidal thoughts.
“The purpose is to make students aware of this issue,” Swan said. “Also, secondary to that, it’s student driven, but helps create a culture, a more positive culture of awareness.”
Fellow SHS counselor Becky Leno also explained the objectives of Sources of Strength.
“It’s to create awareness in everyone, awareness that everyone can tap into to help others,” she said. “One of the biggest things we learned was that kids can be connectors to help. Kids have a lot of power in themselves.”
Wendy Bruso and Anne Quast from the Suicide Prevention Coalition put in time and effort in order to accomplish the trainings.
“They’ve [Sheridan Suicide Prevention Coalition] really made a change,” Swan said. “You can definitely see what they’re doing.”
“I love kids, I love helping kids. My whole job is to help people. This is just another tool in my arsenal in helping people,” Student Resource Officer Howie Fitzpatrick said.
Junior Grace Edeen attended the training with similar intentions.
“If I ever got into the position where I knew someone was thinking about suicide, I want to be prepared,” Edeen said. Edeen went on to say that one of the best ways to help people is to “just show them that people care; be kind; show them that their life matters.”
Sources of Strength is continuing to have follow-up meetings, where students come together to discuss how to further expose suicide and ways to get help. They have formed groups with leaders to help spread the word by outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, awareness around Sheridan, in the school, in sports/extracurricular activities, etc.
Swan thanked Dan Adams for driving down from Denver to lead the training; Wendy Bruso and Anne Quast for putting on the programs; the student counselors at Sheridan High School; K-Life for participating and helping; and all the other teachers, community members, and of course, the students of Sheridan High School.
If you or a loved one is experiencing trouble related to suicide, please visit www.sheridansuicideprevention.com or call 1-800-273-8255 for more information or help.
By Annie Bruso, Sheridan High School