Providing Help – and HOPE – for Teens At Risk for Suicide

HOPE Wk 4

Here in Utah, Riverton High School (http://rivertonhigh.org/)has not escaped the tragedy of teen suicide and its effects.

“Our son, Brayden, was two months away from turning 16 years old,” said Maureen Black, a registered nurse at Intermountain Riverton Hospital (https://intermountainhealthcare.org/locations/riverton-hospital/).  “He had just begun his sophomore year at Riverton High School.  He loved baseball, hockey, and drawing.  He was loyal and true to his friends and family.  Brayden gave massive heartfelt hugs, his smile was infectious, and he created laughter everywhere he went.  He was friends to those who most needed it, stuck up for the underdog, and protected his relationships deeply.”

The breakup with his girlfriend affected him deeply, says Black.

Brayden sent his girlfriend a text message that said, "I don't want to live anymore.”

Brayden then committed suicide. 

Every person who new Brayden was deeply affected, says his mom. “Our family will never be the same without him,” she added .  

As a result of several suicides in 2005 and 2006, the HOPE Squad was introduced to Riverton High School as a preventive measure to provide students with support and to get information to the student body.

The HOPE Squad nominates 50 peers each year who are people who have good listening skills and are easy to talk to. They are students whom their peers trust to talk to during a difficult time or during a crisis. HOPE Squad members train students to be compassionate and aware of their peers and to work to improve the atmosphere at Riverton High School.

As a result, many students have received the help they need.

“So far this school year, we have had 17 students report they have had suicidal thoughts, and each of these students were identified through the HOPE Squad,” said Laura Tranter, a counselor at Riverton High School.

“We are here to educate our students and our community on suicide awareness, and to make sure our students are receiving the help and treatment they need,” Tranter added.

As part of a statewide initiative, the suicide awareness model that is being implemented unites school programs, like HOPE, community connections and mental health partnerships in the fight against, and the prevention, of suicides.

During the week of Jan. 11 through Jan. 16, the HOPE Squad at Riverton High School held a HOPE Week with activities every day to encourage students to choose alternatives to killing themselves. The culmination of the week was a HOPE Walk.

About 300 students walked from Riverton High School to Riverton City Hall where Mayor Bill Applegarth addressed them.

“I am just so amazed and grateful for our city officials here in Riverton, especially our Mayor Bill Applegarth. We have a great relationship with our community, and an amazing group of kids, here at Riverton High. Our students are very service oriented, it’s a part of our culture,” said Tranter.

How can you help?

Watch for signs of concern:

  • Feelings of sadness/hopelessness
  • Loss of motivation or joy
  • Change in appetite or sleeping patterns
  • Recent grief or loss
  • Low self-esteem and anxiety
  • Suicidal threats
  • Feeling this way for two weeks or longer

One of these signs may or may not signal trouble… more than one sign often means that some help is necessary. Notice how long the signs have been present, how deeply the person feels about things going wrong in his/her life and how many signs are present at one time.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, there is help.

REMEMBER: Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

For more information contact the National Suicide Hotline (http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/): 1-800-273-TALK (8255).