WNYT.com

Suicide prevention takes prominent role in South High health fair

Posted at: 05/17/2013 4:49 PM
Updated at: 05/17/2013 5:45 PM
By: Mark Mulholland

SOUTH GLENS FALLS - South Glens Falls High School students took part in their annual health fair Friday.

In addition to the physical contests, there are reminders about the dangers of smoking, drinking and HIV.

But the danger that's never far from the minds of these students is suicide.

The school, known for its wildly successful dance marathon, has seen more young lives lost than most.

So they turned to a program started at the University of Rochester, called Sources of Strength.

"We started here because we had a few tragedies," said Tiffany Woolsey, a teacher, and adviser to Sources of Strength. "It was really important to find new ways for kids to connect and feel more confident about who they are."

The program is based on the notion that young people might be afraid to approach adults or counselors when they're in need of an understanding ear. So peer leaders are there to help and remind them about other outlets or sources of support.

"We want to create a positive environment. We want people to know that they can go to a teacher or they can go to a student and say, 'Hey, I have a problem with this,'" said Josh Deyo, a junior and peer leader.

This is South High's second year with a Sources of Strength program. It was paid for by a University of Rochester grant, but that grant money is going away, leaving the school or the students to fund it themselves or see it end.

But, much like the message they share, they're not giving up.

"We're going to try to get something together, present to the board, present to our principal, get it started up again, " said Deyo.

Advisers say if the district doesn't fund the program, they'll seek help from the annual South High Marathon Dance.