Hope Squad Adapts to the Coronavirus Pandemic
May 5, 2020
A school-based suicide prevention program in Ohio has gone virtual. Members of the Lakota “Hope Squad,” a peer support program, are adapting to COVID-19 shutdowns by connecting with classmates remotely.
Hope Squad is a national effort by the creators of QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer), a suicide prevention protocol similar to ASK (Ask, Stay With, Konnect) the Jesse Klump Memorial Fund’s program. But Hope Squad goes further, by enlisting trusted peers to be aware of potential suicidality among their friends, classmates and family members. Hope Squad volunteers are chosen by the students, not nominated or selected by faculty and staff. They complete QPR training, learn to recognize suicide’s warning signs, how to report their concerns in a respectful fashion, how to empathize with those struggling, and how to encourage help-seeking behavior.
To help identify and assist those at risk for suicide, the Ohio teens are reaching out to fellow students by text, phone call, and digital media. This form of connection is especially important during isolation. The Hope Squad is a key part of a larger effort to support students during the pandemic, said Lakota Schools spokesperson Betsy Fuller. "Lakota's school counselors are also monitoring emails to provide support and reaching out to our families in need, while sharing coping strategies through social media."
To learn more about Hope Squad, visit hopesquad.com.