The eyes and ears
HOPE SQUAD is a school-based, peer-led suicide prevention program which equips and empowers students to be the eyes and ears of a school as they watch out for youth in distress.
The need is real. Sadly, suicide is the leading cause of death for Ohio youth ages 10-14. Students are usually the first to know when another student is in crisis but the majority do not reach out to an adult to report what they know. The program focuses on three tenets:
Train students, staff and the community how to recognize suicide warning signs and act on them to break the code of silence.
Build positive relationships among peers to facilitate acceptance for seeking help.
Change school cultures regarding suicide by reducing stigmas about suicide and mental health.
The powerful Hope Squad program was established in Westerville through a WEC-led initiative in 2021, and now operates in all three high schools.
WEC is now fundraising to establish the program in all five Westerville middle schools beginning in the 2024-25 school year, which is expected to cost $45,000 a year.
Visit hopesquad.com for more information about the national program.