East’s branch of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) aims to encourage open conversations between students concerning mental health.
The club was formed for this purpose last year by Ellie Andrews, a former East student who transferred to Jordan High School and passed leadership down to fellow junior Jasmine Lee.
“My freshman year, many of my friends were struggling with depression,” said Andrews. “When I reached out to the school for help, they were very unhelpful. East has always been uneasy talking about suicide and mental health.”
Therefore, she says, came the idea to start the club at East.
“I wanted to make a club that would reduce the stigma around mental health and help the school create a way to have open dialogue with students,” said Andrews. “I took on the role to help facilitate that conversation. And as someone who has lost a friend from suicide, and who has had friends either attempt or plan to attempt suicide, I felt that the personal connection would help.”
New president Lee cites the negative side of East’s rigorous academic culture as her motivation for stepping up to lead SAVE.
“I wanted to find a way to be more aware about my mental health,” she said, “and to channel my frustration and empathy to promote the cause of suicide awareness.”
Last year, members did this by painting a mural, cleaning up a park, and holding several fundraising events which raised over $1,000 for the cause of mental health awareness.
According to club treasurer Rebecca Mills, $500 of this amount will be given to the nationwide SAVE organization, and the club will determine how best to spend the other half this year.
Every project and fundraiser the club holds, according to secretary Thea Barrett, is in an effort to “prevent suicide, get info out, and just help encourage people to be understanding. And if people need help, by showing them where to seek help.”
One memorable project undertaken at East last year was a “day of color.”
“We went around the school and put sticky notes on every single locker in the school with little encouraging messages to brighten people’s days and bring smiles to their faces,” said Barrett.
These students hope to encourage anyone interested to join the movement. meetings begin in November and occur about every one to two weeks. Anyone interested in helping combat the stigma surrounding mental health through discussions and community service should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Eva Buckner, Copy Editor.