Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé and Thunder Mountain High School basketball teams, coaches, cheerleaders and officials will wear purple during their games tonight and Saturday night at the JDHS gym to raise awareness for mental health, suicide prevention and positive messaging for young adults and community members.
Game times are 5 p.m. for girls and 7 p.m. for boys, both tonight and Saturday. Fans are encouraged to wear purple both nights. Purple is a color used nationally to symbolize suicide awareness and prevention and serves as a reminder that suicide is an issue that needs to be talked about.
The teams will feature a Take A Timeout To Talk program, partnering with NAMI Juneau, Healing Hand Foundation and Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition. Information will be available at the games on these topics. Superintendent Bridget Weiss will speak at halftime of the boys 7 p.m. game tonight.
“This is the second time we have had this awareness presentation,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “Personally, I have had to ask a close friend, when things were going sideways, and I asked him directly, ‘are you thinking about committing suicide,’ and they very quickly answered ‘yes, absolutely.’ I was blown away by that. They only reason I asked was through the training that I had received…”
Co-sponsor of the event is nonprofit Find Your Fire, started by Melissa McCormick.
McCormick started the foundation when her son Spire took his life.
“We always said that Spire had a fire inside of him,” McCormick said. “So what Find Your Fire is all about is finding out what the next steps are, not all of them are going to college…”
“It is a couple of evenings focusing on mental health,” McCormick said of this weekend. “And positive messaging for our young adults and our community members. It is basically to talk about how adolescent development and resiliency and spectrums of mental health, you know, things that are happening through their changes. Through their emotional and social changes. We want to make sure we reach out and touch base with them, let them know that it is okay to talk and it is okay to not be okay.
“The cheerleaders will have a special cheer they are doing for the 7-4-1-7-4-1 which is the crisis text line, because we know a lot of young people will probably text to reach out instead of actually call. Just focusing on finding who that person is that they would reach out to. They need to have a person and that is kind of what I am letting them know… find that person, whether it be a coach, a teacher, a peer, whoever it is, reach out if you are struggling…
“We want to make sure people know it is okay to reach out. And it is okay to ask a peer if they are thinking of taking their own life or if they are struggling with something and how we can help. And that is not going to put that idea into their mind but it is going to help them find the resources that they need.”
For more information on the weekend event, or the topic, contact Melissa McCormick at 907-321-3094 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7. It can be reached at (800) 273-8255.