Hope Squad Invites The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to Raise Mental Health Awareness On Campus for Suicide Prevention Week


Arnav Chandan

Seniors Danae Dang and Katherine Martinez write positive expressions on sticky notes on Sept. 8 for students struggling with mental health. The post-it notes will be put up in the counseling building to collectively form a heart, with the hope that they will help someone in need, according to Hope Squad co-adviser Maureen Muir.

Hope Squad hosted its fifth annual Suicide Prevention week activities outside the counseling office during lunch on Sept. 6 and 8. This year, for the first time in the event’s history, Hope Squad invited the Orange County Chapter for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to participate on Sept. 8, according to Hope Squad co-adviser Maureen Muir.

Resources were provided and distributed to those struggling with mental health and students who visited the booths set up by Hope Squad members in order to teach others more about suicide prevention. Since the event featured the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the information provided was not only restricted to Portola High, but also included county-level resources that students could utilize, according to Muir.

“If we can equip more peers and more students to handle how to help somebody, that’s our main goal,” Muir said. “Let’s talk about it. Let’s make sure that everybody knows all the resources. Let’s get the new suicide prevention number, 988, out there.”

The event’s overall goal was to raise awareness regarding the prevalence of suicide in teenagers and to de-stigmatize the topic of mental health. Additionally, the occasion helped familiarize new students with the Hope Squad members and mental health counselors so that they would know who to approach if needed, according to Hope Squad member and junior Mathias Lee.

“During the event, we had candy, we had Otter Pops, but it was mainly to attract people to come and actually read about what they can do to prevent suicide among our generation,” Lee said. “It’s important to find someone that you can talk to about whatever’s on your mind and the issues that are weighing down in your heart. Whether that’s a friend or parent or even a counselor, it’s always good to be able to talk to somebody about those things.”

Students also had an opportunity to win prizes such as “pop-it” fidget toys and candy supplied by the Irvine Police Department by spinning a wheel and correctly answering questions about mental health and suicide prevention. Students could also write positive messages on sticky notes for other students to look at and reflect on, according to Muir. 

Senior Danae Dang was one of the students who participated in the lunchtime activities and had the opportunity to write her own personal positive message on the sticky notes provided. 

“By writing the notes, I feel like I was really making an impact on our mental health as a whole community, because it benefits both me and whoever reads it,” Dang said. “It made me feel like I was having a positive impact on my peers, and I hope it makes people happier.”