Los Alamos High School students got together Saturday to work on their ‘Reach Toward Not Away project’ as part of September’s Suicide Awareness Month including from left, Jacquie Hargraves, Margaret Wright, Nick Torres, Sopahn Kellogg and Rachel Reynolds. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Sopahn Kellogg is a senior student at Los Alamos High School and has been very busy heading up a project called Reach Toward Not Away for September’s Suicide Awareness Month and Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 8-12.
“In the last 18 months two classmates have tragically ended their lives in suicide as well as another recent LAHS graduate,” Kellogg said. “It is heart breaking for their families and friends. I am only 17 years old and have been to too many funerals. People need to know there is a place to belong and be connected and help is available. I want to do my little part to connect to and with others.”
Reach Toward Not Away is a positive outreach plan to equip LAHS students with tools to help themselves and each other when someone feels stressed, anxious, depressed or threatening to hurt themselves. Our Theme Song is: “You Can Count On Me.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJYXItns2ik
Reach Toward Not Away is a student driven Suicide Awareness and Prevention Project. It is about connecting and belonging. All LAHS students are invited during lunch Sept. 8.-12 to download the ‘Friends Ask’ APP, the NM Homework Helpline and the AGORA Helpline, sign the Reach Toward Not Away pledge and then along with another student pledge taker receive a $5 gift card to go to Ruby K’s and hang out together.
Kellogg reached toward local organizations and businesses with a proposal, obtained funding and support from the Kiwanis Club of Los Alamos, United Way of Northern New Mexico, Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, Dr. Tom – Child and Adolescent Medicine and Ruby K’s. She also asked for help from other students, Margaret Wright, Jared Mang, Rachel Reynolds, Nick Torres and Jacquie Hargraves. This is a community based outreach program for local adolescents.
“I was asked and I want to help out – the school has had two suicides in the last couple of years and something should be done,” said Torres, a senior at LAHS.
Margaret Wright, also a senior, explained why she joined Kellogg and the other students working on the project.
“I wanted to help and I knew that I could,” Wright said.
Most people feel there is not much they can do, Reynolds said, adding that she saw working on the Reach Toward Not Away project as an opportunity.
“I felt I could actually make a difference and not just do nothing,” she said.
Hargraves explained that she really wanted to get involved in this project because, “I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
The Reach Toward Not Away pledge the students are invited to take is, “I pledge to support my friends to stay connected and belong. Whenever one of us is struggling I will do my best to use the Reach Toward Not Away resources and reach toward an adult.”
The student group has a goal of reaching at least 25 percent of their classmates with this opportunity and the group is backed by an extensive support system of parents and community members who believe in the outreach these young people are leading.