Planning for the Hope Squad is still in its early stages at Springfield High School. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Suicide prevention program is coming to Springfield High School

A non-profit focusing on teen suicide prevention is expanding to implement programs in high schools across Ohio, including in Springfield.

Grant Us Hope will soon be bringing a Hope Squad to Springfield High School. The goal of Hope Squads is to provide suicide prevention programs and supplemental trauma recovery programs.

In addition to providing training for students, faculty, staff and community leaders, Hope Squads will also have trauma and re-acclimation coordinators. Coordinators will provide resources and guidance to those struggling with mental health problems.

The expansion of the non-profit’s reach to Springfield High was made possible by a combination of private support and $233,990 awarded in 2018 by then Ohio Attorney General, now Ohio Governor, Mike DeWine. The money was awarded as a part of the Victims of Crime Act, which receives funding from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The grant money will be used entirely to expand Grant Us Hope’s Hope Squads, like the one coming to Springfield High. By fall of 2019, Grant Us Hope will have enacted Hope Squads in 55 Ohio schools, mostly in Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus.

Patrick Smith, Lead Principal at Springfield High School, said that he is most excited to see the student engagement within the Hope Squad program.

“Springfield High School is incredibly excited to partner with Grant Us Hope organization to establish a student led Hope Squad at Springfield High for the 2019-2020 school year,” Smith said. “We are currently focusing on the student led aspect of the program.”

Smith said that he believes that Grant Us Hope is a major driver of student agency and positive culture within the school’s halls.

“This partnership is empowering and I look forward to seeing students servicing other students in a peer to peer capacity,” Smith said.

Dr. Keith Kline, Executive Director of Grant Us Hope, works actively day-to-day with Hope Squad coordinators across Ohio, said that students feel more comfortable discussing their mental health with other young people.

“We know students talk to each other about their mental health and thoughts of suicide, but many times, they do not share what they know with an adult who can help,” Kline said. “Hope Squad Members are trained to recognize signs, ask questions and work with their classmate to get them to the help they need.”

Grant Us Hope was founded in 2016 by Diana Egbers after her 15-year-old son, Grant, took his own life in 2015. Egbers then created the non-profit with the goal of bringing hope to other teens.

According to their website, Grant Us Hope is self-described as a Cincinnati-based non-profit focused on creating communities of leadership and advocacy in support of developing and implementing teen suicide prevention, mental wellness, trauma support and school safety programs in Ohio.

“Suicide shatters family, but you have to find hope,” Egbers said. “That’s the mission of Grant Us hope. We’re providing tools and resources to students and communities to empower them to speak up when they notice a student struggling.”

Grant Us Hope encourages teens, parents, school and communities to engage in healthy conversations about mental health. Through early intervention detection of mental health, trauma and safety warning signs in teens, Egbers hopes Grant Us Hope stops teens from making a life-ending decision.

“Mental health issues in teens can be life-threatening. But with the right tools in place, we believe that suicide is preventable,” Egbers said.

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