The City of Henderson and the Clark County School District are working together to launch a suicide prevention program for teenage and teenage students.
A kick-off event for the Henderson Hope Squad was held on December 9th at Miller Middle School. The program began a few days later, on December 12, at seven middle schools (Brown, Burkholder, Greenspun, Mannion, Miller, Del Webb, and Thurman White) and five high schools (Basic, Coronado, Foothill, Green Valley, and Liberty) in Henderson.
Hope Squad is a school-based peer support program that helps students identify when their classmates are struggling with emotional issues and share their concerns with an adult. Schools in more than a dozen states and Canada participate in the program.
The idea to take action came after 14-year-old Caera Hawkes, who attended Miller Middle School, died of suicide on November 1, 2018. Her parents were at the Henderson Hope Squad event.
The Las Vegas Review Journal does not usually name those who die from suicide. It is for this story because Caera’s parents and the city identified her in connection with the Henderson Hope Squad program.
The tragedy “moved us all” and the Henderson Hope Squad is just a start to tackling the suicide issue, Henderson Mayor Debra March told the Review Journal in a recent interview.
The city has pledged to fund the program for at least three years, including $ 70,000 for the coming year, March said.
Miller Middle School school officials were unavailable to provide comments prior to the mid-December winter break.
For the Henderson Hope Squad, students from each participating school nominated their peers as part of a volunteer team. These students receive 80 hours of training that began in mid-December.
They’ll learn how to spot the signs of their peers thinking about suicide or needing a friend, March said.
Students in need, said Henderson city spokeswoman Kathleen Richards, are far more likely to reach a friend than an adult.
Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at [email protected] or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.
Do you need help?
Crisis Support Services in Nevada has a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline that provides free assistance to people in times of crisis. For assistance call 1-800-273-8255 or send CARE to 839863.
Help for police officers and firefighters
The city of Henderson is also working to provide mental health resources to its police and firefighters, Mayor Debra March said in a recent interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
It comes after Robbie Pettingill, a 13-year-old Henderson Fire Department veteran, died of suicide on September 17th. He was 35 years old.
Pettingill’s funeral took place at Central Christian Church in early October after a motorcade brought his ashes from Fire Station 97, where he was last deployed.
Henderson Fire Department officials said Pettingill had post-traumatic stress disorder. Before Pettingill’s death, he drew up a mental health program plan and sent it to the fire department chief.
In May, Pettingill’s father – retired Henderson firefighter Scott Pettingill – also died by suicide, the fire department said.