Since taking part the Getting to “Y” program last year, youth in the Student Council at Milton High School have been focused on suicide prevention initiatives. When they analyzed the data collected in the school’s 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, they determined that their chief concern was that the rate of suicidal ideation of students in the Milton High School community was higher than the Vermont average.

This week the group put together 38 packets–one for each teaching advisory– including laminated copies of suicide prevention tips from the National Association of School Psychologists, as well as instructions and materials for an activity for each advisory to complete. Students will be given pieces of paper on which they will write positive messages of encouragement, and then the papers will be linked together to form chains.

Matt Rector, faculty advisor for the Student Council, says that the group researched ways that other communities had addressed suicide prevention, and watched a video of a high school in Arizona where youth had created “chains of care.” The Student Council decided that they wanted to complete a similar project, and ordered the necessary materials. The advisory packets provide a meaningful, hands-on activity for youth to take part in, as well as vital information about warning signs, and where to go if students are concerned about a friend or peer. It is inspiring to see students tackling this difficult issue with such thoughtfulness and care, and we look forward to seeing the colorful chains displayed around Milton High School!