October 23, 2014

Medina
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Students trying to save peers from tragic trend of suicide

Click here to view the Alternative Paths YouTube channel, which showcases the winning Cloverleaf video and the runner-up Medina video.
Cloverleaf High students perform in a video aimed at preventing suicides produced by the school's drama club that won first place in a competition sponsored by Alternative Paths, a Medina mental health center. (SCREENSHOT FROM VIDEO)

Cloverleaf High students perform in a video aimed at preventing suicides produced by the school’s drama club that won first place in a competition sponsored by Alternative Paths, a Medina mental health center. (SCREENSHOT FROM VIDEO)

The Cloverleaf High School Drama Club took first prize in a suicide prevention video contest sponsored by a Medina nonprofit mental health agency.

“I’m really grateful that people are getting this message,” said Drama Club President Nicole Rhoads, a senior.

“They’re going to see this and they’re going to think twice. They’ll find help.”

She said Medina County sheriff’s Deputy David Pries, who serves as Cloverleaf’s prevention officer, approached her with the suggestion to make the video.

Rhoads said she decided to make the video because she thought the suicide prevention message was important to high school students.

“This entire school was affected two years ago when a girl committed suicide,” she said. “I was one of her acquaintances. I used to talk to her. So it’s definitely something I dealt with.”

Senior Kevin Martin, a Drama Club member, said he also knew the girl.

“We were really good friends from eighth grade up until then. We had a lot of classes together,” he said. “I don’t think enough people realize this is really something that does happen and we need to stop it.”

A survey conducted last year by Living Well Medina County indicated a fifth of the county’s high school students have “seriously considered attempting suicide.”

Rhoads and Martin said they asked members of the club who had been impacted by suicide to get involved in the video.

The cast included freshmen Delaney Sheldon and Allison Chudzinski; sophomore Michael Martin; juniors Daniel Chudzinski, Syndey Heil and Jack Gerber; and senior Lydia Glancy.

Also involved in the video production were Pries and teachers Adam Michel and John Camigiano.

The group won $2,000 for first place. Half went to the Drama Club and the other half was split among the nine students.

The video contest was put on by Alternative Paths, a nonprofit behavioral health care agency, in the wake of a rash of teen suicides across the county last year.

Alternative Paths CEO Gail Houk said the agency chose the Cloverleaf video because it adhered most closely to a set of requirements.

“We had a written set of criteria that we gave all the students, so we looked at the quality of videos and whether they included the risk factors and the other criteria,” Houk said. “The video from Cloverleaf fit all the elements. They really hit on all the big issues.”

The video, which can be viewed on the Alternative Paths YouTube channel, showcases several teens detailing suicide warning signs, such as talking about suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, and saying goodbye to friends and family.

One girl says in the video that three-fourths of those considering suicide display the warning signs, hoping someone will notice and help them.

“If you’re one of the many struggling with suicidal thoughts, just know that you are wonderfully and beautifully made,” one boy says. “You’re a gift who’s dearly loved and never alone. You have a purpose in life and always have hope.”

The students provide several resources including phone numbers and websites for people contemplating suicide.

Houk said the video was well done.

“A lot of those details, some kids may not think about,” she said.

Another video, produced by Medina High School students, was chosen as runner-up and also will be displayed by Alternative Paths.

The Medina High video was similar to Cloverleaf’s and ended with students and community members locking hands on a football field in a show of unity.

Houk said the videos will be shown wherever Alternative Paths representatives are asked to speak, as well as on local cable networks and in schools.

This year’s contest was the first of many, Houk said. Twelve videos — from groups and some from individuals — were submitted.

“For our first year, we were thrilled to have the submissions we did,” she said. “It was great to see how these kids reached out to their peers.”

She said while the videos will help to inform viewers, they also helped educate the participants.

“Part of our mission was not just to create videos, but to get conversation started. It’s great to get the video in the end, but it’s also great that we got the awareness out to the participants,” Houk said. “We’re already encouraging kids to start thinking of ideas for next year.”

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.