ProjectU campaign seeks to nix suicide thoughts

Suicide prevention: a three-part series

With the subject of teen suicide still fresh on everyone’s mind given the tragedies of recent years, Farragut High School took suicide prevention to heart for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

The school kicked off its ProjectU campaign with activities to raise awareness during Suicide Prevention Week Sept. 9 through Sept. 13.

“It went great. Our kids really responded well to all the activities,” FHS principal Dr. John Bartlett said.

“Generally, you want students to take it seriously but have fun and lift up each other — encourage each other — and that’s what they did,” he added.

ProjectU, first created at Hardin Valley Academy, is a student-led group focused on building unity and promoting kindness.

“We are a group that’s really about being inclusive and trying to unite students,” said Andi Tenry, the guidance counselor and coordinator for FHS’s ProjectU group.

“We do stuff usually monthly, but September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, so our students have been taught warning signs.”

However, she said what students really wanted to do is “to love each other and try to connect with other students.

“We’ve tried to do different activities every day that give people hope,” Tenry added. For example, on the first day, “we had every student’s name on a heart in the Commons.

“One day, we did a gratitude (theme), so we put notes where students would come by and complete the sentence. I’m grateful for …’ and we built a wall of gratitude.”

Feautured Friday, Sept. 13, was “a kindness shout-out booth,” Terry said. “It’s really just saying thanks to those people who’ve been caught being kind or have been there for (students) during hard times.

“We’ve had a lot of students come by today and nominate friends or classmates that they’ve seen that have just done some really good things,” she added.

“Throughout the school year, we’re going to share all those nominations so that people can see what difference all those small acts make for each other.”

The efforts continued Tuesday, Sept. 16, at the Bearden versus Farragut girls soccer game in Farragut Soccer Stadium (Farragut Intermediate School), where students tried to raise awareness.

At the end of the day, Tenry said she has seen a difference as a result of those activities.

“We’ve had a lot of involvement,” she said, adding teachers have taken the time to do activities in their classrooms.

For example, in Michelle Brossett’s career/technical education class, students made stress balls.

“I think (the involvement) has caught on,” Tenry said. “Students are reaching out to each other, and it’s really cool.”

Along that line, Bartlett also acknowledged Tenry for her efforts.

“She has done a fantastic job with ProjectU,” he said.