Peers sources of strength in mental health program


Lauren Roseman

The National Honor Society is bringing a new organization, Sources of Strength, to CHS to help those struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts.

By Lauren Roseman, Staff Writer

This year, the National Honor Society (NHS) is bringing the suicide prevention program “Sources of Strength” to CHS in order to bring awareness to recognizing suicidal signs in students.

Every year, the NHS selects a topic to advocate for, and this year the students chose to focus on suicide prevention.

According to NHS president and senior Lucy Srour, suicide prevention has become a concern in recent years, especially since the unexpected death of Evan Rosenstock in 2013.

“Evan’s death two years ago shocked this whole school,” Srour said.  “Since he was in our grade we felt the impact even stronger, so we wanted to represent him and show that he is a part of our class, and we will never forget him,” Srour said.

Dr. Benz recommended the Sources of Strength program to Srour after hearing representatives speak at a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) event.  Sources of Strength is based on a grant founded by NAMI, which started in North Dakota in 2000.  Now, Sources of Strength has spread to other communities.

Sources of Strength’s goal is to help limit suicides throughout the community by spreading “hope, help and strength” through strong relationships and support systems.  These strong relationships will be built by 75 peer leaders in CHS.  Teachers specifically recommended these leaders, which comprise a diverse group of students.

According to NHS Adviser Jamie Frank, the peer leaders will reach out to students to spread the messages of suicide prevention.

“Churchill students are generally hard working, friendly and nice people so we have the perfect school community for such a program,” Srour said.

Peer leaders went through an intense training Feb. 27 for the first step in the Sources of Strength process.  The training focused on the importance of teamwork and the recognition of the strengths of others.

“I learned how much I don’t know about the people I go to school with and how much the little things that you can do to help someone really affect their outlook,” said peer leader and junior Jameelah Khadar.

According to Srour, Sources of Strength was chosen for its unique approach that allows students to get help from peer leaders rather than adults.

The next step of the program will be to have a meeting with the leaders to establish a messaging campaign to raise awareness for teen suicide.  The campaign will tie into the NHS week dedicated to fundraising for suicide prevention.

More students will be trained in future years so that the program can continue into the next years with new peer leaders.  CHS is one of four MCPS schools participating in this program.

“I feel it is a great fit for Churchill, and I only hope it will give all the students strength and support,” Srour said.