Quite often, the key to preventing suicide in an individual is recognizing their need for help and reaching out to that individual.

Last week, students from around southwestern Utah gathered at the Dixie Technical College Campus on Tech Ridge to take part in training for a peer-to-peer suicide prevention program called the Hope Squad.

The event welcomed a total of 23 schools from southwest Utah, including 17 schools in the Washington County School District. Over the two-day training, Dixie Tech’s doors were opened to around 600 Hope Squad members from intermediate, middle, and high schools, along with their advisors.

Hope Squad members are nominated by their peers as trustworthy individuals capable of offering crucial assistance during a crisis. This training equips them to be empathetic and effective support systems for their fellow students in times of need.

During the training, the students were able to learn various skills and topics that pertain to suicide prevention including QPR (Question Persuade, and Refer), boundaries, self-care, coping skills, inclusiveness, and resilience.

The Hope Squad program spans nationwide and “reduces youth suicide through education, training, and peer intervention.”

This annual gathering at Dixie Tech highlights the commitment of students, educators, and the community to tackle youth suicide and promote mental health awareness.

Hope Squad's core values are:

1. Education.

The Hope Squad program was built by educators in partnership with mental health experts. The evidence-based training changes how schools approach mental health and suicide prevention.

2. Initiative.

Hope Squad members are trained to take action when someone is struggling. Instead of waiting for a peer to come to them, Hope Squad members are the ones to reach out first.

3. Openness.

Hope Squad members are trained to be aware of their peers and watch for warning signs. They learn to show empathy to their peers, listen without judgment, and reduce stigma regarding help-seeking and mental illness.

4. Self-care.

You can help others best if you are also taking care of yourself. We advocate for maintaining healthy boundaries, building resilience, and avoiding burnout.

5. Community.

It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes an entire community to save one. The Circles4Hope model recognizes the role of mental health partnerships, school programs, and community connections working together for suicide prevention.



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