You’re not invisible. Help is always available. It’s OK to speak up.
These were the sentiments echoed by students, support services staff and administrators Thursday morning in the auditorium at Geneva High School.
During an annual program titled “Signs of Suicide,” freshmen learned about the signs of depression and self-harm, as well as some help-seeking skills and strategies they can implement if they or someone they know are struggling emotionally.
One such strategy is “ACT”:
- Acknowledge your friend has a problem and needs help.
- Let your friend know you Care about them.
- Tell a trusted adult.
To show full school support, staff and administrators donned black T-shirts that bore a yellow suicide prevention message “Here 4 U.” Students in the GHS Peer Leadership Program, who helped to moderate the event, also wore the shirts and handed out suicide-prevention bracelets that read “Acknowledge, Care, Tell — www.ElussasMission.org” as well as “Suicide Prevention Services” cards with contact information.
GHS social workers and psychologists organized a moving and meaningful event that featured several video scenarios on how to seek help, two peer speeches about their experiences with depression, and touching musical performances of the songs “Invisible” and “Lean on Me.”
One student courageously spoke about their personal journey to seek help after feeling isolated and depressed for several years, and reassured the audience that the help was available. “Depression makes these beliefs feel true. But the real truth is that depression lies. Telling others is what helped me to realize this, to get the help that I needed, and to get to the much healthier and hopeful place that I am in now.”
This presentation is just one of many preventive measures taken by the Counseling & Advising office, according to School Psychologist Michelle Vargas-Herbst. “We also do a booster presentation for the juniors, which is coming in a few weeks,” she said. After both presentations, students fill out response cards, which allow the staff opportunities to provide further assistance where needed.
Acknowledging the horrific school shooting last week in Florida, Principal Rogers reiterated that school safety is the administration’s top priority. “We want this school to be the safest place for you,” Mr. Rogers said. He emphasized that communication is key, and urged if a student sees or hears something that makes them uncomfortable, they should report it to a staff member. “We want you all, every single day, to say to yourself: ‘I’m in a safe place. I feel comfortable.’”
Students were given a hotline to call if they need help for
themselves or others (630-482-9699), as well as a website for more information:
Freshmen also were assured that the entire staff at GHS is available and approachable. “Go to Counseling & Advising and say, ‘I just need to talk to someone,’“ one student suggested. Their response, freshmen were assured, will always be “We are Here 4 U.”
Watch the acoustic performance here.
Watch the jazz choir performance here.