Several Green Country schools are raising awareness about suicide prevention because statistics show Oklahoma’s suicide rate increased by eight percent last year.
This is “We Matter Week,” an effort to remind students that their lives are important.
The school's offering panels to educate students and staff on how to help someone who may be struggling with their mental health. But this campaign is taking it in a different direction, telling people to call your friends and family to say you love them.
"Just letting others know that they're important and their life matters,” said Michele Magalassi.
“We Matter Week” is part of Michele Magalassi and her family's scholarship foundation.
They created it after Michele’s son Brandon died by suicide in 2004. He was 15 years old.
"He loved to help other people. And he was just a sweet soul, a sweet soul,” Michele said.
She said he played football, loved hunting with his dad and brother, and had a passion for animals.
"I was always encouraging him to hey, someday you need to be a veterinarian because he loved animals that much,” Michele said.
Michele also lost her dad to suicide.
A tragedy, all too familiar for Tara Newby, who is part of the campaign. She's lost five people in her family to suicide, including her mother and sister.
"It really rocked me. I have PTSD now from that,” Newby said.
Several years ago, a high school student came up with the We Matter concept.
Michele says since suicide prevention is such a heavy topic, it's a positive spin to start conversations. She says it’s about being kind to one another and telling loved ones they matter to you.
"I just want people to be able to talk about it. Talk about if they are struggling, if they've lost someone, or if they know someone that's struggling,” Newby said.
During the week, the Foundation will give t-shirts and host student activities.
The women say the hope is to break stigmas, change lives and spread hope.
"If you reach out, someone will be there to help you,” Newby said.
"Don't ever give up. People need to hear the message, they need to know that they matter,” Michele said.
To date, the Magalassi Foundation has awarded $117,000 in scholarships for graduating high school seniors.
It’s funded by support from donors and the non-profit is run completely by volunteers.
The foundation is also active on social media posting encouraging messages and reminding people that they matter.
It is our policy to provide resources for anybody considering self-harm when reporting about a situation involving suicide or a suicide attempt.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else. To speak with a certified listener, call 1-800-273-8255.
The Veterans Crisis Line and Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1) connect veterans and service members in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text.
Crisis Text Line is a texting service for emotional crisis support. To speak with a trained listener, text HELLO to 741741. It is free, available 24/7, and confidential.