This past Sunday, Elyssa’s Mission had the opportunity to teach the educational component of the SOS Signs of Suicide® program to members of the 8th grade youth group at Old St. Pat’s Church. We were so impressed with the turnout, not only of the students, but also of the parents; every seat was taken! Joanne Meyers, President of Elyssa’s Mission, initiated the presentation by posing the following impossible-to-ignore question: “Did you know that suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens ages 15-24?” She went on to explain why we do the work we do, revealing that when her daughter Elyssa completed suicide, educational programs about suicide really didn’t exist within most schools. Joanne made the point known that through education to teens about the warning signs of depression and suicide, many young lives could be saved.

What followed was a showing of the “Friends For Life: Preventing Teen Suicide” DVD, paused at key points to allow for discussion. Several of Elyssa’s friends (who are also Board members of Elyssa’s Mission) were present to aid with the discussion and respond to the group’s questions about Elyssa. Melissa, Pat and Zach clearly reiterated the ACT message that appeared throughout the DVD (Acknowledge that your friend has problem, Care-show them that you care, Tell a trusted adult), expressing their personal regret about not having taken Elyssa’s warning signs seriously enough. Teens and adults alike were touched by their stories, and discussion in the room flowed following the DVD segment on “Elyssa’s Story.”

– Jodie Segal, Director of Education