I Matter, You Matter, We Matter…Everyone matters to someone and every life is precious! That’s why suicide prevention and awareness is everyone’s business. Suicide crosses all socio-economic boundaries. Nationally in 2017, suicide was the second-leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth-leading cause of death among individuals between ages 35 and 54. On average, every day in Oklahoma two people between the ages of 10 and 24 commit suicide.
If you haven’t personally been touched by suicide, then chances are you know someone who has. It is incumbent upon all of us to educate ourselves on the warning signs and risk factors, so we can be prepared to help someone in need.
In its simplicity, promoting the concept of “I Matter, You Matter, We Matter” teaches that each life has value, that each life is worthy, that each life matters. And therefore by extension, we can prevent suicide. We can begin to change the culture and promote an open dialogue about suicide awareness and prevention among students, parents and teachers. That dialogue can start as early as the elementary school level, where children learn to simply treat others with kindness and compassion.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. In Owasso and Collinsville, we recognized Suicide Prevention Week September 8-14 through the “We Matter Week” campaign. It is the 7th year that the Brandon Magalassi Memorial Scholarship Foundation partnered with Owasso and Collinsville schools to promote the concept of “We Matter” and to promote suicide awareness and prevention.
Some of the We Matter Week activities included
• QPR suicide prevention training — QPR means Question, Persuade and Refer, an emergency mental health training intervention that teaches lay and professional gatekeepers to recognize and respond positively to someone exhibiting suicidal warning signs and behaviors. Anyone can take a basic QPR class to learn how to “Ask a Question, Save a Life.”
• Distribution of We Matter t-shirts and posters.
• We Matter t-shirt toss at the football games.
• Daily “We Matter” announcements and social media sharing.
• “We Matter” chalk quotes on sidewalks.
• Students shared testimonies and messages of hope.
• Students wrote “tickets” of kindness and left them on cars.
• Students wore their We Matter t-shirts or purple during the week.
• Elementary students read “What Does It Mean to be Kind?” by Rana DiOrio, to understand what being kind looks and feels like.
• Megan Brillhart, Magalassi Foundation Youth Board Member and freshman at Tulsa Community College, spoke to her freshman speech class upon the topic of suicide prevention.
• Sarah Goran, former Magalassi Youth Board Member and Tulsa University student, continued to make a positive impact and spread the message of “We Matter” at the TU campus.
• Michele Magalassi spoke to Rejoice Christian School students, sharing her family’s story about her son, Brandon, and how the Magalassi Foundation was established.
The Magalassi Foundation’s mission is “To promote suicide awareness through scholarships and education by addressing issues in our community that can end in suicide”. The Foundation’s vision is to “stop suicide dead in its tracks”.
Since 2005, the Magalassi Foundation has awarded scholarships totaling $99,000 to 99 students. Scholarships are a one-time award of $1,000 and available to Owasso / Collinsville area graduating high school seniors. Scholarships are competitive and based on essays submitted by the students. Essays written by the scholarship winners are posted on the Magalassi Foundation website, http://magalassifoundation.org/.