Golden High School shows success with anti-suicide program

GOLDEN, Colo. -- In recent weeks, two Arapahoe High School students took their own lives. The school responded with a day off for the community to grieve. 

There's another school in metro Denver that went through similar circumstances several years ago. Now, Golden High School says it has moved in the right direction thanks to a national program its administration implemented when the school was affected by suicide. 

Students said they lost three kids to suicide about four years ago.

“The climate at Golden High School was a little bit isolated," senior Dorian Scardello said.

“To me, the problem was students feeling alienated and not connected to people, which is the most important thing that anyone can feel," teacher Chad Reid said.

“It was just very dark," senior Mercedes Ohlen said.

“That’s why we had actually introduced Sources of Strength to the school -- to try and create a more interconnected community," Scardello said,

Sources of Strength is a National Suicide Prevention program.

“We try to pick leaders from all groups in Golden High School," Ohlen said.

“Really, all we needed was an improvement in the inclusivity," Scardello said.

That theme can also be seen in the community, as there is now a mural in town.

“We are at the Wall of Hope, that we were able to help design and have a very big creative job in," Ohlen said.

Trees on the mural represent being inclusive and the branches represent different sources of strength.

“As the primary purpose of the organization is obviously suicide prevention, we try our best to make sure that every student knows that they have a trusted adult and other peers that can talk to when they’re in times of need," Scardello said.

Now, four years into the project, its impact is evident. Since Sources of Strength started at Golden High School, no students have committed suicide.

“There’s still cliques, there’s still people that don’t treat each other nicer, but there’s a little more thought into, 'If i’m going to be mean to somebody, what would this do?'" Reid said. “Sources of Strength has done a tremendous job of letting kids know they’re not alone and that there’s real help there.”

The leaders of the program meet once a week and try to figure out how they can reach the rest of the student body with their message.

Seven high schools -- Golden, Lakewood, Arvada West, Columbine, Wheat Ridge, Evergreen and Green Mountain -- three 7-12 schools -- Alameda International, Jefferson and D'Evelyn -- and six middle schools -- Manning, Arvada K-8, North Arvada, Dunstan, Evergreen and Moore -- use the program.

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