HOPE Squad set to create worthwhile impact



The original Hope Squad of Provo, UT is branching out among the nation, preserving lives and educating young adults to be empathetic individuals.

PJ Sills, Managing Editor

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the state of Washington for youth 10-24 years old,  and the third leading cause of death in the nation. Depression and spiraling suicidal thoughts have spiraled out of control in recent years especially, and prominently among youth. Riverside and other local schools across all grade levels have held victims of suicide.

“[Suicide] has turned into a more concerning problem, I have really witnessed it grow just in the past five years,” Principal Dave Halford said. “There’s a lot more pressure on the youth of today versus the youth of many years ago in terms of what they’re expected to do, and have to handle.”

However, about 90 percent of these suicides are preventable, it’s just about spotting the warning signs and handling stress and depression proactively, rather than ignoring others and waiting until it’s too late.

In 2005, Dr. Greg Hudnall out of Provo Utah founded the peer HOPE squad program to implement in schools. HOPE Squads are student groups trained to identify suicide-warning signs in their peers, and alert adults to those signs. Over the summer, a group of six advisers will spend two weeks in Utah to learn about what the warning signs of suicide are, how to identify them, and how to help those who are struggling. Then, that group will return to train a group of 50 voted in students to act as HOPE squad members.

“They help to look for warning signs, how to react, how to create an environment in which everything is a little more healthy and understanding,” Halford said. “We care about everyone and try to emulate that in Raven Crew and Breaking Down the Walls, so this would be a program in which students can be incorporated as mentors or a club around here to make a positive environment.”

This ultimately will make everything better in the schoolhouse and for everyone in the future. Those who are beginning to withdrawal and become silent from their own issues and from others deserve the opportunity to talk to others who are knowledgeable, safe, and overall, welcoming.

If any students have any questions about how to get the help they need, there are counselors, two school psychologists, and a loving community of teachers, administrators, and students around them to surround them as a family. There are resources; there are people who can help efficiently, confidentially, and consistently. Don’t be silent, help yours, and help others.