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Hope mentors help students prevent suicide

Nov 29, 2016 03:31PM ● Published by Rubina Halwani

Hope Squad members at the Utah PTA Vital Issues conference. (Rubina Halwani/City Journals)

Gallery: Hope mentors help students prevent suicide [3 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Rubina Halwani | r.halwani@mycityjournals.com


Hope Squad students from Lone Peak High School talked to peers from around the state about suicide prevention. The session was one several lectures at the Utah PTA Vital Issues/Advocacy Conference. The program was held on Nov. 7 at the Granite School District Administration Building. 

Suicide is the leading cause of death in children aged 10-17, according to the Utah Department of Health.

Paul Dymock, LCSW and Suicide Prevention Specialist from Alpine School District explained Hope Squad is a student-led, suicide prevention advocacy group. Hope Squad members are nominated from their peers. They are trained to identify signs of suicide and be a comfortable contact for peers. 

“What they do is go into the classroom and students present to students, which is way more effective than adults presenting to students,” Dymock said. 

Hope members offer information on causes, treatments and resources to fellow students.

Dymock added that the support structure of Hope Squad includes trained teachers/student mentors, counselors, administrators, parents, police and religious community members. 

“We’re finding that as we’re working and being involved the numbers are dropping and we’re seeing great successes,” Dymock said.

Youth suicide rates in Utah have been consistently higher than the national rate. An average of five hundred and fifty Utahns die annually from suicide and over forty-five hundred people attempt suicide each year. 

Three key factors discussed by the student presenters were failure, anxiety and stress. 

“Anxiety is highly treatable, but one-third of people that do have anxiety are not getting help for it” said Hope student Brittan Allphin. 

Hope Squad Member Sierra Anderson suggested for students to know one another on an individual level as a way build social connectivity and ward stressful/anxious situations. 

“The teachers who notice the anxiety systems those are the teachers that makes the difference in people’s lives,” Anderson said. “And those don’t even have to be teachers, those can be students and parents as well.”

Suggested treatments include ways to be happy, healthy, and Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound/SMART goal-setting method. 

Utah offers SafeUT Crisisline, a statewide, twenty-four/seven service for anyone facing suicide, depression, anxiety, loss/grief, school problems, substance abuse, self-harm, or relationship difficulties. It is free, anonymous and confidential. You can call 1-800-273-8255. There is also an available app. For more information, visit http://healthcare.utah.edu/uni/clinical-services/safe-ut/. 

To learn more about Hope Squad and how to begin one in your school community, visit http://hopesquad.com

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