July 24, 2016

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Video: Teens, think twice about suicide

MEDINA — School staff and local police and paramedics joined students at Medina High School on Sunday afternoon to help them reach out with a message of suicide awareness.

Students in Stephani Itibrout’s composition and rhetoric class at Medina High are working on a video they plan to enter in the Medina County Coalition for Suicide Prevention’s “Stomp Out Suicide” video competition.

Senior Jordan Laird, 17, left, Sydney Campbell, 17, seated, and Junior Sadie Oblak, 16, film a group scene for a video on suicide prevention. Students in the class are submitting their video for the countywide “Stomp out Suicide” program. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY LOREN GENSON)

The class is a blended-learning course — meaning it incorporates technology into the classroom work. Writing, directing and editing components of an online video are all skills that are developed, Itibrout said.

“This whole thing was really led by the students,” she said. “I serve to advise them, but the whole thing has really been directed by them.”

On Sunday, students shot portions of the video that include a lone person, dressed in black, slowly being surrounded by friends. As her friends surround her and lift her up, school officials and police and paramedics also join in with support.

The video will also include supportive messages written by students and help up on sign boards and information on where to go for help.

Don Leuchtag, a paramedic with the Medina Hospital Life Support team, said it was important for his team to participate in the video because “we deal with the aftermath of suicide all the time,” he said.

Students said they especially wanted to do something to raise awareness after a freshman student committed suicide in September. His death was the fifth juvenile suicide in the county in 12 months.

Students said that number was too high.

“It’s been a problem in Medina and I hope our video changes that,” said Peter Kolomichuk, 17, a senior.

While the goal of the video contest is to win a $1,000 prize for the school and $1,000 for the winning team, Kolomichuk said he hopes getting a video online will show that supportive people are here to help can prevent another suicide.

“I’m hoping people will see our video and maybe think twice,” he said.

Shelby Smith said the class worked hard to get community members and students to participate in the video, and the class is also selling suicide awareness wristbands with the proceeds going to benefit a battered women’s shelter.

“It’s a really important project because people need to know suicide is not the only answer,” Smith said.

Itibrout said she’s been so pleased with the way her students stepped up to coordinate such a major project.

“They felt very deeply after this last suicide that this was something they needed to do in a big way,” she said. “They really want to change things and bring the community together.”

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.