Suicide prevention is essential for everyone, especially for teens. The leading cause of death for teenagers in Utah is suicide. During the COVID-19 pandemic, teen suicide was at an all time high. Fortunately, Hope Squad can provide teens the help they need and help teens who might be struggling. Hope Squad is a teen led suicide prevention program that brings peers closer together. The program is a great way for kids to get the help they need from other kids their age free of judgment and shame. Currently, there are over 1,000 Hope Squads in 39 states. The organization was founded in Provo. Two local teens involved with Hope Squad came to Good Things Utah to talk more about the program.

The organization’s mission statement is to “Reduce youth suicide through education, training, and peer intervention” and their goal is to have a Hope Squad in every high school in the country.“High school can be kind of a lonely experience, you can make it a very personal, lonely [and] inward thing and Hope Squad is just a place you can band together and you are meant to rely on each other for help and for advice,” said Munashe Tunjani, a junior at Hillcrest High School. “It’s a beautiful thing that we can lean on each other so we don’t have to be alone in high school.” In addition to suicide prevention, the organization focuses on mental health and the stress or anxiety teens face in school as well as their personal lives.

The program has been successful as many teens feel included and valued after talking with their peers. It is also a great way to build community. The organization’s five values are Education, Talking Initiative, Openness, Self Care and Community. It has been proven that teens feel more valued and are less likely to self harm when they are supported by their peers. “I think the best way for a teenager to get help is from a teenager,” said Spencer Johansen, Senior at Bingham High School. “Adults are cool but we’re not going to listen to them as much as we’ll listen to a peer. I love the topic and just being able to help people.” While the program is led by teens, it has ample support from adults including Gov. Spencer Cox who believes there should be more Hope Squads. 

To donate to Hope Squad and Hope4Utah, go to hopesquad.com/donate or contact support@hopesquad.com