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SPEAK Program seeking local students to help raise awareness and peers struggling with suicide

Photo: Getty Images

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Huntsville Hospital Foundation is now accepting applications for its 2018-2019 SPEAK Student Ambassador Program. SPEAK stands for Suicide, Prevention, Empowerment, Awareness and Knowledge. The program is open to upcoming high school sophomores, juniors and seniors in Huntsville City, Madison City, and Madison County Schools.

 SPEAK Student Ambassadors are responsible for promoting suicide prevention and awareness among students, teachers and faculty in their schools. All ambassadors receive training for crisis intervention and awareness, and help provide resources on topics such as suicide, feelings, self-esteem, bullying, depression, and anxiety through the SPEAK North Alabama mobile app and other initiatives.

“We are looking for SPEAK Student Ambassadors who are thoughtful leaders and advocates in their schools,” said Anna Manning, SPEAK coordinator. “Suicide is the third leading cause of death for ages 15 through 24 in the state of Alabama. The SPEAK suicide prevention program seeks to address and reduce that number by providing education and prevention resources. Our ambassadors are crucial to this effort.”

The 2017-2018 class of SPEAK Student Ambassadors was comprised of 47 student ambassadors representing 15 area public and private schools. Through the program, 4,871 students received suicide intervention training.

Manning says they would love to double or even triple the number of SPEAK Student Ambassadors for the upcoming school year.

“I would say for sure that the teens are our biggest support,” describes Manning. “They have insight into what’s really going on in the schools and with their peers. I think they are our biggest hope as far as knowing what to say, what to do and what programs we need to focus more on.”

Learn more about applicant criteria and responsibilities. The deadline to apply is Friday, May 4.