Sources of Strength: not your typical suicide prevention program

Though the program is still getting off the ground, those involved have high-hopes for its impact on the student body

Alex Olson, Managing Editor

There is little doubt that teenage suicide has become one of the leading concerns of school communities in recent years. Various programs have emerged in response to these concerns — one of which is called Sources of Strength (SOS) was founded near the end of the 2017-2018 school year at MHS.

As stated, the program itself is a new take on suicide prevention. It threads student involvement into an attempt to prevent suicide instead of simply reacting to it.

As counselor Maura Brady-McMullen states, “Sources of Strength was originally created as a suicide prevention program, and it’s also a positive program.” She continued to explain that instead of being reactionary, it is preventative by choosing to focus on students’ strengths as opposed to their shortcomings.

The program is also laced into Mav 30—the newest rendition of Advisory. However, it remains relatively unknown.

Junior Tyler Gibbs, when prompted about what the purpose of the program said, “I’m not even sure what it’s about, so… I don’t even know.”

Although the program is just beginning, the students involved have a positive outlook on the program itself citing it’s student involvement and preventative approach.

Mrs. McMullen explained that, “Students can come up with their own action plans of things that they’d like to do.”

Additionally, Mrs. Ervin said “The students are actually the official leaders of this—us adults are sort of just support and logistical help.”

Ms. Metivier and Mrs. McMullen both highlighted the positive focus of the program, noting that it focuses on one’s strengths, allowing it to help prevent suicide, rather than simply attempting to react to it.

Ms. Metiver said, “We chose sources of strength because it focuses on a positive message, because it doesn’t focus on a ‘doom and gloom, here are the statistics, analyse them and feel bad’ kind of thing, but it focuses instead on what you can do, things you can focus on to bring up spirits.”

Sources of Strength will accomplish this by holding various events throughout the year (similar to the ‘Thank You’ notes of last year) to help create a positive environment throughout the school.

Ideas for these events, per Mrs. McMullen, will come from both a list of programs from SOS, and from students involved with the program at MHS.

With this in mind, students appear to know very little about the SOS program. While most, if not all, of the student population is aware of its presence in Mav 30, those involved with the program seem to think that the students in general don’t really know about the actual program yet.

Mrs. McMullen said, “I don’t think people know that it’s a program that’s available because it’s not a program that you can go sign up for and say ‘Hey, I wanna be a member of Sources of Strength’ in the sense that ‘I’m going to get SOS help.’” That being said, those involved with the program and some students outside of it expect the student population to know about it once it gets off the ground.

The program was only started recently, near the end of last year. Thus, it hasn’t had time to begin events, other than the “Thank You” notes and isn’t yet a presence to the general student population.

However, those involved plan to change this, with both events, and training for the student body.

Sources of Strength is also making an impact at other local schools. Per Fox 31 Denver, Golden High School, which had struggled with student suicide in the past, has not had a student commit suicide in 4 years after SOS was implemented.

Much like Mead, Golden High School’s program is to prevent suicide, but also creates a more positive environment around the school. Its results show the effect of this approach.

SOS is having a training in October, in which “[We are] hoping to get 50 new students involved, but we can certainly go bigger.” said Mrs. Ervin. Certainly, the more students SOS involves, the more impact on the student population it will have.


Students that wish to be involved with SOS should contact Mrs. McMullen.