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Changing the Dialogue: Suicide Prevention in Schools

Banner displaying blog title: "Changing the Dialogue: Suicide Prevention in Schools".

By Vicky Clark, Senior Director of Programming, Grant Us Hope
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10–24. Thousands of youths' lives are lost to suicide each year. When schools, communities, and mental health organizations come together for suicide prevention, they can give young people the support they need to find hope and choose life.  
Grant Us Hope is a Cincinnati-based non-profit organization focused on creating leadership communities and growing knowledge around teen mental health and suicide prevention. We believe that if we all KNOW MORE, we can SEE MORE and DO MORE to assure all young people have the supports they need to live a safe, healthy, and robust life. We equip parents, school personnel, community members, and students with the skills to identify struggling youth and get them the support they need before it is too late. Grant Us Hope helps educational leaders reshape school and community culture to save young lives together.   
Diane Egbers founded Grant Us Hope in 2016 after she lost her 15-year-old son, Grant, to suicide. Since then, she has worked diligently to impact schools' mental wellness and suicide prevention. She is committed to changing the dialogue and stigma around teen mental health and creating awareness for suicide prevention across the country by changing the culture of schools.  
We know that seven out of ten youths are more likely to confide in a peer than a trusted adult when they struggle with something. That's why Grant Us Hope is a licensed provider of Hope Squad, an evidence-based peer-to-peer suicide prevention program that works within a school to reduce the stigma around mental health and suicide. Hope Squad members are trained to identify at-risk students, provide friendship, and seek help from an adult.   
The Hope Squad curriculum emphasizes suicide prevention fundamentals, self-care, and anti-bullying practices. Many students are already discussing heavy topics like depression and suicide. Without training, students may keep a peer's suicidal thoughts secret and try to help them, causing undue burden and doing more harm than good. If a Hope Squad member learns someone is having suicidal thoughts, they know how to respond and where to get help. The Hope Squad program strives to:  

  • Train staff and community members in youth suicide prevention through evidence-based training. 
  • Empower the natural helpers in your school through peer-to-peer suicide prevention training. 
    • Raise awareness of mental health and youth suicide prevention resources.   
  • Educate students on how to recognize suicide warning signs and respectfully report concerns.  
    • Train students on how to support fellow students who may be struggling.  
    • Increase connectedness, inclusion, and social-emotional learning skills.  
    • Increase help-seeking behaviors.   
    • Reduce suicide attempts. 
Grant Us Hope is growing rapidly, now implementing peer-to-peer suicide prevention programs in more than 230 schools in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Hope Squads are in 1,400 schools in the United States. There are over 50,000 Hope Squad Members, over 10,000 students have been referred for help by Hope Squad members, and over 2,500 students have been hospitalized and received support thanks to those referrals.  
As Hope Squad grows, we will continue to spread hope and save more lives. Since almost all efforts to persuade a young person to live instead of contemplating suicide will be met with agreement and relief, don't hesitate to get involved. Grant Us Hope encourages you to be part of the movement, do your part to advocate for mental wellness, and do your part to change the stigma around mental health. Please click here for additional information regarding Grant Us Hope, or email [email protected].

Vicky Clark serves the ESC in partnership with Grant Us Hope, a non-profit organization centered on student mental health and well-being, as the Senior Director of Programming.   

She is passionate about helping struggling adolescents and young adults. With over 35 years of experience in education, serving as the Assistant Superintendent, Director of Elementary Curriculum, Director of Student Support Services, Principal, and teacher has allowed me to gain valuable experience supporting youth mental health. Her credentials also include a Bachelor of Science Degree from The Ohio State University, a master's degree from Wright State University in Curriculum and Supervision, and continuing studies at Ashland University, obtaining a superintendent license. She is also a certified QPR and Youth Mental Health First Aid trainer and Staff Wellness facilitator.  

She is committed to equipping parents, school personnel, community members, and students with the tools they need to identify struggling youth through advocacy, education, and support.