About two dozen adults and Aprende Middle School students gathered early Sunday to distribute suicide prevention door hangers in a Chandler neighborhood.
Eduarda Schroder, one of the four mothers who founded Parents for Suicide Prevention, organized the event to distribute the door hangers her organization designed and printed as part of their Suicide Prevention Month activities.
The door hangers are designed for both adults and teens with warning signs of suicidal tendencies, phone numbers to call for help and a basic reminder for young people who feel there’s no way out: “Please reach out…You are not alone.”
People who want to help circulate the door hangers or even keep one in a visible place in their home can email joyBlanchard@gmail.com.
The need for the door hangers and other preventative measures has been reinforced in the last two weeks.
A Mesa girl, 18, and a Mesa boy, 17, took their lives in separate incidents, as did a 17-year-old Gilbert boy. That brought to at least 38 the number of teens in Gilbert, Mesa, Chandler and Queen Creek who have taken their lives since July 2017.
The three most recent teen suicides were within days before and after the governor signed into law on Sept. 11 a requirement that all school personnel – from teachers to bus drivers – receive evidence-based training in how to recognize suicidal tendencies in teens and what to do about it.
Ahwatukee state Sen. Sean Bowie won bipartisan support to pass the measure in the last legislative session. Another driving force of its passage was the heart-wrenching testimony before Senate and House committees from parents whose children had taken their lives.
Aprende Middle School was a focal point for the distribution campaign last Sunday because two graduates of the school and one student took their lives over the last five years.
The two grads were Corona del Sol High School students when their lives were lost – a fact not lost on Tempe Union school board member Sandy Lowe, who was part of the Sunday event along with several teachers and coaches at the school.
“An issue that always is top on my mind is mental health,” Lowe said. “We’ve got to get a handle on that and it’s just really tough.”
Schroder approached Sunday’s distribution event like a field general.
She gave each group of volunteers maps of the neighborhoods around the Chandler Police Department’s Desert Breeze Park Substation to show where the door hangers were to be simply put on the front door.
“We’re not talking to anyone, just getting the word out,” she said.
Schroder and other members of Parents for Suicide Prevention held a small rally outside Aprende on Friday afternoon and Principal Renee Kory was on hand to encourage the volunteers and lend them her support, according to Schroder.