Sixteen schools in Arlington ISD are taking a different approach to educate youth about suicide prevention with the help of a peer-to-peer intervention program called Hope Squad. The schools celebrated Hope Squad Week this week with activities like class TikTok challenges, scavenger relays, crossword challenges and more in an effort to prevent youth suicide through education, training and peer intervention.
Students on each Hope Squad are nominated by their peers for being kind, trusting and encouraging individuals that anyone in the school would feel comfortable talking to. Once selected for the squad, students receive year-round training and support from trained advisors on how to show empathy, listening without judgment and reducing the stigma around mental illness.
“Hope Squad Week couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Young Junior High counselor Kelli Stewart. “This is a great initiative for the kids to learn about being kind and spreading hope. With the activities, it’s cool to see how they express hope in different ways. It’s adding some much-needed positivity to the kids’ lives.”
The Hope Squad program began in Utah after multiple suicides occurred in the Provo City School District. Administrators decided to try everything they could to prevent any more. Suicide rates in the Provo City School District dropped to zero because of the implementation.
Hope in Arlington
Since then, Hope Squad has been implemented in campuses across nearly 40 states in over 1,250 schools. More than 5,000 students have been referred for help with the assistance of trusted peers and advisors. The Arlington ISD is in its third year of Hope Squad implementation, and participating schools are listed below.
High school: Arlington College & Career, Arlington Collegiate, Bowie and Venture
Junior high: Bailey, Barnett, Boles, Carter, Nichols, Shackelford and Young
Elementary: Amos, Goodman, Little, Patrick and Wood
“At the end of each day, we want the kids to know they matter,” said Telisa Brown, Arlington ISD director of guidance and counseling. “We know suicide rates have increased since the pandemic, and this is a great program that equips students with resources to create a fostering environment at their school.”
Spreading the message of hope has helped thousands of kids across the nation. This includes Arlington. The Hope Squad aims to continue the discussion around mental health and wellness to help save lives.
For more information on Hope Squad and how to get involved, visit their website. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also reach out to your school counselor for support.