By Greg Daniels
This is the first year of the Hope Squad organization at Emery High School. Hope Squads were originally implemented in 2004 in the Provo School District by its founder and developer, Doctor Greg Hudnall. There are now over 1,200 Hope Squads in schools throughout the United States and into Canada. The Hope Squad mission is to “reduce youth suicide through education, training, and peer intervention.”
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people between the ages of 15-24. Nearly 20% of high school students report serious thoughts of suicide and 9% have made an attempt to take their lives.
A Business and Society Report states, “According to the Utah Department of Health, suicide is the eighth leading cause of death for Utahns, with an average of 657 suicides per year. The Utah suicide rate is consistently higher than the national rate, and more deaths result from suicide than from motor vehicle crashes, breast cancer, or other chronic physical health problems.”
Student Hope Squad members are trained on what indicators to look for in their peers. They learn the best ways to reach out and connect struggling students with help and support. They also learn about the importance of self-care.
On Feb. 7, the Emery High Hope Squad held an assembly in conjunction with kicking off its Hope Week. During the assembly, students who knew someone who struggled with suicidal ideation were asked to stand. Nearly the entire auditorium of 650 students and faculty stood.
Next, the assembly was asked to stand if they knew someone who had taken their life by suicide. Again, nearly the entire student body and faculty rose to their feet. Death by suicide hits many of us close to home as we remember friends and loved ones who have ended their life by suicide. Miss USU Eastern Brooklyn Ward and her second attendant Nicole Taylor spoke to the students followed by a performance from the school choir singing “You Will Be Found.”
Hope Squad members are nominated by their peers. Members of the Emery High Hope Squad are:
Seniors – Kelby Jones, Aubrey Guymon and Sean Rogers
Juniors – Will Stillson, Audry Yost and Mason Hurdsman
Sophomores – Dazi Thatcher, Cassidy Gilbert and Karson Anderson
Freshman – Daman Farley, Dixon Peacock and Laynee Monson
The Hope Squad would like to publicly express its appreciation to the community for its support; especially Sign Edge, who donated a Hope Squad banner, and Walmart in Price, who awarded a grant to help provide funding for activities and supplies.
The goal of Hope Squads around the country is “to prevent suicide through public awareness and education, to reduce stigma, and to serve as a resource to those touched by suicide.”
Together, we can make a difference. Remember, It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes an entire community to save one.