GREENBRIER, Ark. – A student-led group at Greenbrier High School is promoting suicide prevention throughout the school and spreading positivity wherever they go.
The club is called the Lifesavers and was created with the intent of raising awareness on mental health and giving students the opportunity to openly talk about suicide and their own struggles in a stigma-free zone.
The club was created by Greenbrier High School’s principal, Travis Barrentine after the death by suicide of a student. The tragedy was devastating to teens at the school, and Barrentine says, “it really brought to light how much our students are struggling.”
What began as a way to start an open dialogue about suicide and mental health quickly turned into a movement, a way to touch not only the hearts of their peers – but change the school’s culture itself.
Junior Lauren has been in the club since last year. She says, “it just brings a spotlight to it and says, ‘hey, this is real, this is happening, and this is how were going to deal with it.’”
She along with junior Rasa and sophomore Malerie have learned the signs of suicidal thoughts and have studied SafeTalk, a course that trains allies how to talk with their peers. In addition, club members work to spread positivity throughout the school, engage students in conversation, and know who to contact when help is needed.
But the focus on mental health spreads beyond students, especially following the challenges of COVID-19 and quarantines. The entire Greenbrier School District is looking to focus more on mental health.
Dr, Trisha Benish, director of mental health and behavior services explains, “we have the goal of training all staff in the whole district in learning about the signs and symptoms.”
Beyond the school, students hope the city’s community will also get involved, and that other school districts will think of starting their own Lifesavers club to continue to raise awareness across the region.
For those struggling, there are resources that can help. Call the National Suicide Hotline 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255.