Red Lake students use school day off to confront youth suicide

Red Lake, Minnesota (AP) 10-07

Wearing a T-shirt imprinted with her daughter’s portrait, Marie Lyons was among several mothers attending a youth suicide awareness event that high school students helped organize.

About 300 people came together for a march during October to support the students, who chose to use a regular day off from school to deliver their message of “Strength, Power & Love for Life.”

“I’m glad the students are getting into it,” said Lyons, whose 16-year-old daughter, TeAnn, committed suicide three years and eight months ago.

School counselors said the students wanted to do something after they heard of the recent child suicide of an off-reservation Red Lake member.

“The students approached us and said we have to get something going,” said student wellness counselor Murphy Thomas.

Three additional licensed social workers in the Red Lake schools have helped the tribe make progress on suicide prevention, said tribal health director Oran Beaulieu.

“We want to reduce this altogether ... so we make sure this tragic event doesn’t occur again in our community,” he said.

The event included singing, T-shirt giveaways, other prizes and a skit by high school students. Students also made posters carrying messages such as “Love life – don’t hate life,” and “Ganaawendiyok,” which means, “Take care of yourself” in Ojibwe.

“I’m glad they’re bringing it to light,” said Lisa R. Beaulieu, whose 15-year-old daughter, Lucia, committed suicide. “It’s devastating. It changes everything.”