River Valley, South Gallia and Gallia Academy students join forces to create suicide prevention video

Talking about suicide or suicidal thoughts can be difficult, but a video released Thursday by VideoVentures featuring students from River Valley High School, South Gallia High School, and Gallia Academy High School spreads the message that it is “ok to not be ok” and gives tips on how to help those who may be struggling.

It was the unexpected loss of her nephew Anthony Sipple to suicide that sparked Abby Whitt’s desire to create the video.

“No one in our family saw it coming. My brother and I are both teachers, we work with students every day that are troubled,” said Whitt. “After Anthony, I realized that there is no “stereotype” for suicide. I knew then that we needed to reach out to all of our students across the county to let them know that it’s ok to not be ok.  I want students to know what to do if they are worried about a friend, family member, or classmate. I want them to know who they can reach out to for help.”

The video features Julia Nutter, Ian Elbin, Maddi Young, Cole Young, Hunter Coon, Alyssa Sheets, Hannah Hawks, Madison Tabor, Myles Morrison, Harley Watson (RVHS), Ryelee Sipple, Wyatt Sipple, Maddi Petro, Lilly Rees, Josh Faro, Garrett McGuire (GAHS), Brooke Campbell, Olivia Hornsby, Colton Bowers, Destiny Johnson, Nicolas Johnston, Bryce Nolan, Sydney St. Clair, Riley Sanders and Kara McCormick (SGHS). The students act out multiple scenarios students might face, including feeling alone, dealing with family issues and academic performance concerns. The video continues to not only point out warning signs but also give friends and loved-ones tips on how to approach the person about their concerns and identify resources available to find help.

The idea for the video aimed at high school students came about after Kelly Bonice, director of Accessibility and Mental Health Services at the University of Rio Grande, showed Whitt a suicide prevention video made by URG students last year.

“After viewing it, I knew I wanted to make a video with high school students from the city and county schools,” said Whitt.  “From there, I reached out to Mike Thompson, who donated his time and talents for the production of this video. Without him, this video would not have been possible.”

About donating his services to make the video, Thompson said, “There are some things I would rather not make money on and suicide is one of those. I saw at least four people that I either knew or had some connection to, including one of my former students, take their own life during 2017. I have not seen that amount of tragedy in my circle of family and friends in my 53 years and if I can make a difference I will.”

The video will be shared on social media and in the middle and high schools in both districts. Both Whitt and Thompson hope the video makes a positive impact on the students, as well as the community.

“I hope that the video encourages people to be kind, to be thoughtful, and to check on their friends and family,” said Whitt. “I hope it reaches someone who feels like they can’t go on and gives them the strength to reach out for help. Because help is available.”

“I hope the video, if shared enough, will educate people about the signs of someone in crisis and hopefully give them the courage to act and save a life,” said Thompson.

Whitt also expressed her appreciation to both districts for their support in bringing suicide prevention awareness to students.

“They could have very easily turned a blind eye, but they didn’t,” said Whitt. “Both districts have made it a top priority for our students to know that there is help available.”

Whitt is a member of a Suicide Prevention Committee, which is currently working on several ideas for events, including plans to soon bring a speaker to the schools.

The University of Rio Grande has also planned an Out of the Darkness walk on April 14. All proceeds from the event go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. (AFSP).

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, text “4hope” to 741741 for help or call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-8255.

Watch the video below: