DAVE & DUJANOVIC

Hope Squads: kids help other kids prevent teen suicide

Sep 25, 2019, 3:42 PM | Updated: Jan 4, 2023, 2:46 pm
hope squads teen suicide prevention...
Photo credit Getty Images.

SALT LAKE CITY — A new system aims to bring hope to troubled teens — through the use of something called hope squads.

Before teachers and administrators from the Provo School District decided to take a more active role to prevent teen suicide, the district experienced an average of 1 to 2 suicides per school year. That average reflects the years between 1999 and 2004.

That was an unacceptable average.

After a year of national research on peer-to-peer programs, Hope4Utah was born. It was a labor of love for Cathy Bledsoe, the Assistant Director of Hope4Utah.

“We commissioned our school counselors, psychologists and social workers,” Bledsoe told Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic on KSL Newsradio, “to take a year and look at peer-to-peer school programs across the country.”

Hope4Utah is born

Hope4Utah introduced something called Hope Squads to Utah schools. The squads are groups of trained students that walk the hallways of Utah schools as well as schools in 18 other American states. There are also Hope Squads in Canada.

“Once we started [Hope Squads],” Bledsoe said, “we went nine years without a suicide.”

The key was training students to help students, not as counselors but as friends. And if your friend is struggling, Hope Squad students are taught, you help them get help.

Thousands of Utah kids are helping

The Hope Squads debuted at Timpview High School in 2004. Today, Bledsoe says that in Utah there are more than 7,000 students in Hope Squads from 4th to 12th grade.

“These kids are looking out for kids that are sitting by themselves,” Bledsoe told Dave and Dujanovic, “who are walking down the hallway with their heads down, by themselves.”

The research shows that youth will text or talk to a fellow student if they’re struggling, before they talk to an adult.”

Bledsoe says that it helps students to know that there are other students they can turn to.

“What we’ve seen happen,” she told KSL Newsradio, “is when they have a Hope Squad, after a while, it changes the culture of the school.”

Hope Squads: a ripple effect

Specifically, she says that when kids see a group of kids who are modeling the positive behavior of reaching out, and not bullying, “you have a ripple effect.”

“We’ve heard over and over again that when students see this behavior, they model it,” Bledsoe said. “And they learn that it’s okay to reach out if you need help.”

Teachers and administrators who want to bring Hope Squads to their school should visit the Hope4Utah website, where they’ll find resources and contact information. There is also information at the site for families who are looking for resources.

Two upcoming events will spread the word about Hope Squads. The Walk for Hope on September 28, and a speech by Dr. Matt Woolley, co-host of KSL’s Project Recovery podcast. Woolley will present information at Salt Lake Community College in Sandy about teen anxiety, depression, and screen time. You can find more information here or text TEEN to 57500 to secure a spot at the free event.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Dave & Dujanovic

Multiple dollar bills are pictured, social security will see a bump...
Mark Jones

Eyeing retirement: How much money is enough after you leave a job?

How do you know when it's time to leave a job or if you'll have enough for retirement? Dave and Dujanovic talk to a financial planner about this important question.
5 days ago
interest rate...
Curt Gresseth

Interest rate ticks up. Time to tame your debt.

The chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com joins the show to talk about the rising interest rate and how you can get out from under the debt you have accumulated.
5 days ago
One of the topics being discussed during the 2023 Utah Legislative Session is how to combat the tea...
Mark Jones

Bill would allow individuals to become teachers without a bachelor’s degree

A bill being discussed on in the legislative session would allow for individuals to become teachers without obtaining a bachelor's degree.
6 days ago
The main reason small businesses fail in America is that the business owner doesn't have access to ...
Simone Seikaly

Lack of access stands between Black-owned businesses and success

But lack of access to money isn't the only thing that hinders Black-owned business in Utah and across the nation.
6 days ago
More Americans are struggling to pay their energy bills.  Nearly 1.5 million more U.S. households ...
Curt Gresseth

Cost of heating homes in Utah rising as thermometer sinks

The cost of heating a home in Utah is rising because demand has increased and the drought in the West has cut into production.
6 days ago
A bill that could make its way to the Utah legislature in the 2023 session would require school dis...
Mark Jones

Potential redesign of new Utah State Flag emphasizes Native American tribes

Sen. Dan McCay (R-Riverton) is sponsoring a bill that would call for a slight redesign of the new Utah State Flag.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Hope Squads: kids help other kids prevent teen suicide