Going Yellow to save lives
Did you know that 1 in every 5 teenagers is vulnerable to suicide? Teen suicide is the third leading cause of teen deaths in the US. The Yellow Ribbon Program began from a group of teenagers whose friend's death tragically influenced them to prevent teen suicide.
Recently, Lindhurst High School has gotten involved with the suicide prevention program. It encourages students to reach out to their peers and to talk the problems through.
Several students volunteered to become gatekeepers for those who appeared to have strayed from the safe path. A gatekeeper is someone who guides or oversees the actions of others. These individuals host presentations for the entire school.
Teenagers are the most effective gatekeepers for their peers because most can relate to a situation and are more understanding. Adults usually avoid talking about suicide because they fear that once the thought is spoken out loud, it will become a reality. Others just do not feel comfortable about the subject.
Suicide is a serious issue and should not be taken lightly. If someone is claiming to want to kill himself or herself, take him or her seriously. Some warnings signs of suicide include lack of energy, indecisiveness, mood swings, withdrawal from friends and family and depression. And some people show no warning signs at all.
Teachers and staff at Lindhurst quickly accepted this program. They recognize it as a good use of class time when students become more involved and aware of their surroundings.
"The Yellow Ribbon Program is so important to schools because it gets students talking and learning how to help each other," said Lindhurst's Assistant Principal Christine Vahldick.
To get involved with the Yellow Ribbon Program, one must be committed, open-minded and thoughtful. Gatekeepers must maintain the troubled person's privacy. This program encourages gatekeepers — or anyone — not to spread someone else's most vulnerable stories through Facebook, Twitter, text or gossip.
Then again, privacy does not mean that one needs to keep quiet if one knows about someone who is about to hurt himself. It is better to speak up and save a life than to keep a secret and lose a valuable person.
LHS students decided to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program because some have personal experiences and would like to share their stories to inspire those who are lost to regain hope and motivation to keep living. Most joined because they simply want to help those who are in need.
"I decided to join the Yellow Ribbon Program because I love helping others no matter the situation. It makes me feel good inside knowing that I helped someone. I want to save lives," said senior Andrea Raya.
The Yellow Ribbon Program is a suicide prevention program that gears students to be active and aware of those who may harbor thoughts of suicide. The program does not treat people; it urges action to stop deaths.
Marisa Vang is a senior at Lindhurst High School. Her column appears every six weeks in Education.