Elyssa’s Mission has had the privilege of partnering with Geneva High School for over four years now. They implement the SOS Signs of Suicide Prevention Program with their freshman each February, and somehow manage to make each year’s program even better than the last.

Their secret: drawing upon their Peer Leadership Program (PLP Club) in order to help plan and facilitate annual suicide prevention programming for students. PLP Club members consistently draw upon art, photography, music and club members’ personal stories to help freshman understand that depression is treatable and suicide is preventable, instilling in them a sense of hope, even when it seems like things will never get better.

When I first learned that Geneva planned to implement SOS via an assembly format, I immediately became apprehensive: How would they maintain students’ attention? Would students still be able to take this program seriously? How could that process possibly work in an auditorium setting.

Geneva’s most recent presentation, which consisted of student speakers, a soloist with guitar and piano accompaniment, and a combined photo slideshow/display of student artwork (in conjunction with a selection by the choir—as if everything else were not enough!), moved me to tears. I was particularly impressed with how speakers (students, as well as the principal) emphasized the need to get others involved and to ask for help.  Students heard the critical “ACT” message repeated several times, and this repetition is important.  The principal spoke of the supports in place at Geneva, and, while acknowledging that Geneva was far from “perfect,” made it known to students that there were adults at school they could talk to and that cared about them.

Geneva reminds me time and time again that there is no “right way” to implement SOS, but rather endless ways to bolster this life-saving program.

Jodie Segal, Director of Education, Elyssa’s Mission