Ellie--

Student Apprentice

During the end of my 6th grade year at DCC (my sister's 9th grade school year) 4 teens at our school committed suicide within 2 weeks. Not only did these events affect fellow classmates, family members, and friends but I found myself, as a younger student, also greatly affected. I was scared, confused, frustrated and along with many other people, felt helpless. How could I help, and how could this have been prevented? That summer (2016), my family put on a three day long event in July. This event was called Spray the Love. We invited the community to come spray paint colorful forget-me-not flowers on our old fence. We had the simple word "love" in yellow and our message was meant to be spread to everyone. The word "love" is international and can connect to anyone for whatever reason. I know that everyone has their stories and that sometimes simple acts of kindness can change someone's day. Without that tough time period of learning that suicide is a huge problem and that some people don't believe they are meant to live, I would not be the person I am today. This has impacted me so much, and I truly believe there is a way to help. In reality it is not going to go away, and it is not going to be a problem that can simply just be solved. But I know that we can start now and learn from this. I certainly have, and it has given me many ideas and questions I want to put out there. Suicide is a serious topic, but it is not a topic that we should try to hide. It is a topic that must be addressed. My middle school years were changed because of the tragic events at our high school. It made me even more aware of my surroundings. More aware of people around me, and their feelings or problems. It also shaped my desire to try and help others. After our Spray the Love event was finished we had several other schools reach out to us about doing similar events. It truly grew bigger than we ever imagined, and although it started from the hurt from suicide, it rippled out and touched other people for other reasons. That is my goal in life. And I do not believe I would be able to achieve this goal or even set it without that experience.