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Holmes JHS - Daily Announcements

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September 9, 2021

Dear Parent or Guardian:

The adolescent years are marked by a roller-coaster ride of emotions – difficult for students, their parents and educators. It is easy to misinterpret depression as “normal” adolescent moodiness; however, depression (among the most common of mental illnesses) appears to be occurring at a much earlier age. Depression – which is treatable – is a leading risk factor for suicide. In addition, self-injury has become a growing problem among youth.

To proactively address these issues, Holmes Junior High is offering depression awareness and suicide prevention training as part of the Signs of Suicide (SOS) program. The program aims to increase help-seeking behaviors among students concerned about themselves or a friend. Listed on SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices, the SOS program showed a reduction in self-reported suicide attempts by 40-64% in randomized control studies (Aseltine et al., 2007 & Schilling et al., 2016).

Our goals in participating in this program are straightforward:

To help our students understand that depression is a treatable illness

To explain that suicide is a preventable tragedy that often occurs as a result of untreated depression

To provide students with the training on how to identify serious depression and potential suicidality in themselves or a friend

To impress upon youth that they can help themselves or a friend by taking the simple step of talking to a responsible adult about their concerns

To help students know whom in the school they can turn to for help, if they need it

This program will be presented to all sixth graders on Monday and Tuesday September 13-14,  to seventh graders on September 20-21 and eighth graders on September 27-28.  Presentations will be conducted by the Holmes counseling team and will take place during your child’s physical education class. The SOS program is brought to us by Elyssa’s Mission, a nonprofit organization dedicated to suicide prevention. Elyssa’s Mission is the only organization in the state of Illinois to fund, distribute and implement SOS. To get more information on suicide prevention, visit their website at www.elyssasmission.org. Make sure to view their online Parent Presentation

at https://elyssasmission.org/for-parents/ for specific information on warning signs and how to keep your child safe.   We also encourage you to visit www.sossignsofsuicide.org/parent for information on warning signs for youth suicide, useful resources, and some of the key messages students will learn.

As part of the program, facilitators will show SOS video clips and lead students in discussion. Students will then complete a brief depression screener as well as fill out a Response Card indicating whether or not they would like to speak to an adult about themselves or a friend. The depression screening tool addresses thoughts and feelings which a parent may be unaware their child is having. This tool does not provide a diagnosis of depression, but rather alerts school staff to those students requiring further investigation. School mental health staff will be available to meet with designated students; school staff will subsequently notify parents/guardians regarding any needed next steps.

If you have any questions and/or do NOT want your child to participate in the SOS program, Principal Mark Rasar prior to the program date. If we do not hear from you, we will assume your child has permission to participate in this program.

Sincerely,

Mark Rasar, Principal

Holmes Junior High

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