A suicide prevention program is coming to Berryhill Schools.
It’s called Lifelines. The program will teach administrators, teachers, and students about the warning signs of depression and how to get help before it’s too late.
The lead author of the program is in Green Country this week running the extensive training sessions – sessions they say have been vital in saving lives all around the country.
“In the 1980s, the suicide rate for youth had gone up 300 percent from 1950 and that was the first time people were talking about youth suicide,” said Maureen Underwood, the author of Lifelines.
Underwood has spent much of her life training school districts and communities to become aware of the warning signs of depression in youth that often leads to suicide.
“It’s about kids recognizing warning signs in themselves and a friend and knowing how to get that person to the right resources in a school or identify those trusted adults outside of school,” she said.
“I actually lost a student last year, which I feel like is a big catalyst for the reason I felt like this was so important for our school district,” said Berryhill High School Principal James Fox. “We had a student that felt like they needed a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and with that, it impacted our students tremendously, it impacted our teachers a lot, and our community.”
It’s also personal for Linda Lemmons, who oversees all 420 high school students.
“Pressure on students today is great,” said Lemmons. “Social media students feel that everyone else’s life looks wonderful, maybe theirs not as much.”
Lifelines will train teachers, parents, and even middle and high school students to notice that pressure and find healthy ways to cope.
“These tools that have been given to us are going to be really beneficial to our students,” said Fox.
Lifelines will consist of several hours of education for students who want to participate.
It’s already in place in Collinsville and training is underway in Broken Arrow.
If you or anyone you know is needing help, there are resources available. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or contact the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.