Dream Makers Rock!
A young person who takes his or her own life leaves behind a lifetime of unrealized potential -- and devastated family and friends who are haunted forever by the loss.
This issue has hit hard on the Yakama reservation, where at times troubled youths have come to see suicide as a way out of personal, social and economic problems. White Swan, an area of about 2,000 residents deep in the heart of the reservation, endured four suicides in four months last year and has recorded seven since 2006.
A group of White Swan-area teenagers not only recognized the problem but did something about it.
The eighth- through 11th-graders formed a group called Dream Makers. They handed out cards that listed signs of suicidal thinking along with information about where to get help. They got training in suicide prevention. They put on an assembly at White Swan High School to share what they learned with the entire student body.
"They said, 'We want to do something about this,' and they stepped in and they did it," said Joel Tannehill, a substance abuse counselor at the high school.
What they did worked. There has not been one suicide since the group began its effort in October of last year, and at least two team members have talked friends out of taking their own lives.
Their efforts garnered statewide notice when Dream Makers won the grand prize at the annual state Spring Youth Forum, organized by the state Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery and the state Attorney General's office. The White Swan group competed against 42 other teams from around the state, and the team members will travel to Washington, D.C., to the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America national leadership training.
We salute the students and faculty behind Dream Makers. The students are Jose Suarez, Mercede Byers, Chance Jackson, Juan Carlos Serrano, Chelsey Sheppard and Tedra Spencer; their advisers are Darlene Cash, Nancy Fiander and Susan Doyle.
Their work is quite literally saving lives.