Rogers Teachers Use Shirts To Raise Awareness For Suicide Prevention

ROGERS (KFSM) -- During the Friday school day, faculty and staff at Rogers School District's middle schools could be see wearing the same black shirt with the National Suicide Prevention Hotline number on the front and an encouraging message for students on the back.

This is a part of a new campaign set up by some of the counselors at the schools.

Tina Wrobel is one of those counselors and works at Elmwood Middle School.

She said every year they have the opportunity to apply for a grant with the Rogers Education Foundation.

This year they wanted to do something big and decided to take the taboo topics of suicide and depression and start a conversation.

“We don’t want it to be taboo," Wrobel said. "We want people to know that there is help out there and that its okay to talk about it. Hearing the chatter that’s been going on today its definitely caused a buzz and that’s what we wanted. We wanted to bring it out in the open and these kids are getting it.”

Some of the students came into school today not quite sure what was going on.

The school estimates about 400 faculty and staff members wore the shirts.

Even though these kids range from sixth to eighth graders, they said they do see friends who could be struggling with depression.

Dakota Kholos, an eighth grader, said she has some friends who have a hard time talking about certain topics with people.

"They just kind of come to me, apparently I’m a good person to talk to," Kholos said. "They just come to me and are like I’m having a bad day, can you help me out, make me a little more happy.”

Wrobel said every year she and her fellow counselor at Elmwood see up to ten students who are contemplating suicide and send them to treatment facilities for help.

She hoped this campaign would help some of those students before it comes to sending them away.

“If we could do something more preventive, more proactive we wouldn’t have to send them to facilities like that," Wrobel said. "Those are not good places for kids. I mean they give them help but its not a good atmosphere. So we want them to be able to come to us here in our building and know that we can help them.”

Axel Arias, another eighth grader at Elmwood Middle School, said he suffered from depression about two years ago.

He said things like his parents' seperation, bullying and losing other friends to suicide brought on his depression.

Arias was overjoyed to see the school start a campaign like this and that these shirts could have helped him.

“I find it like a miracle because during my time when my depression was happening, if I saw that I probably would have called that suicide hotline number," Arias said. "At the time I didn’t know that was a thing and that would have told me that I am not alone, I have someone.”

Other students who said they have not dealt with depression before still see this campaign as something good.

They know there are students out there who are suffering.

Some said seeing the teachers and staff in the shirts made the school feel like a family that they could come talk to and made some feel like they do matter.

Arias said he believes that topics like depression and suicide are not talked about enough in schools.

He had this advice for others who may be struggling like he was just two years ago.

“That they’re not alone and you guys have so much opportunities to live life," Arias said. "You have so much potential in this life and you could change the world. Even though right now you might be feeling sad or bad and worthless, just know that you are worth something.”