Yellow Ribbon project called a ‘positive experience’ |

Yellow Ribbon project called a ‘positive experience’

by Merrie Leininger

Many of those involved in the daily lives of Douglas County students said they felt the Yellow Ribbon Project was a positive experience.

Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School Vice Principal Rita Elliott said she was unsure about the teen suicide prevention presentation until she saw it.

“After I saw the quality of the program and how respectful the students were, I was very glad we took part,” she said. “In all three assemblies, I’ve never seen them so respectful. They were in tune with what was being said and the fact parents were there speaking made an impact, I think. It has been my experience that students who are thinking about (suicide) do not think about other people – they are centered on their own feelings and hearing the parents opened a whole new area of thought for them.”

Eric Marchant was a Carson Valley Middle School student who committed suicide in June. His parents, Larry and Cindy Marchant, have been heavily involved bringing in Dar and Dale Emme, of Westminster, Colo., who have traveled the country discussing teen suicide prevention for the four years since their son, Mike, killed himself.

Elliott said the school counselors have spent a lot of time following the presentations talking to students who were emotionally affected by the presentations.

The decision to have community meetings for parents was an important one, Elliott said.

Although the Tuesday night storm prevented many from attending, the entire PWLMS staff was on hand.

“I think it was a really good plan to present to parents so they would see what their children are seeing. It gave them a lot of good advice how to deal with someone by not leaving them alone and listening to them. Sometimes, parents get into the habit of not listening, especially parents of adolescents – there are so many ups and downs,” Elliott said.

She said the counselors have given teachers suggestions for “extending the lessons if they felt the students needed it.”

She said one of those lessons includes writing a letter to the Emmes or using their Web site to give them feedback on the program.

n DHS students. Students at Douglas High School did not hear the presentations by the Emmes, but the Natural Helpers were given suicide prevention training and put on the presentations, along with the school counselors and psychologists, to small groups of students Thursday.

“They seemed to respond well. We’ve had some incidents of people using the cards already,” said DHS counselor Dori Draper.

She said in a few weeks, counselors should have a better idea of how the program was received in the district.

The Emmes will let schools know how many students from Douglas County who have logged onto their Web site, Draper said.

Draper said while the turnout at the Tuesday night community meeting at PWLMS was small because of the weather, she felt the community was concerned.

She said parents even asked for the program to be put into the elementary schools.

n Good feedback. Cindy Marchant, who went to every presentation and spoke at several, said while the weather caused some problems, she was happy with the reaction and is anxious to hear what people thought about it.

“I have gotten some good feedback from parents I know and from kids who came up to us and thanked us for being there,” she said.

She said she was surprised to talk to students at PWLMS who had met Eric at community dances.

“His sister taught him to dance and Eric loved to go to dances – he would surprise me so much by going by himself and he would have such a good time. He talked about the girls from Pau-Wa-Lu he met there, but I never knew who they were until they came up to me.”

She said she felt all the students took the issue very seriously, even if they never had encountered suicide themselves.

“I told them, even if doesn’t apply to you, it could apply to your brother or sister like it does to Shelly (Marchant). She wishes she knew then what she does now. I feel I really had their attention,” she said.

Marchant arranged a surprise for the Emmes at the Wednesday night community presentation at Whittell High School. Representatives from Rep. Jim Gibbons’ office presented them with a token of recognition for all the work they had done to prevent suicide.

“The Emmes were in tears, because I had kept it a surprise and they were really moved. I had assumed they had gotten things like that because they work closely with the Colorado Legislature, but it was the first time,” she said.

Marchant said her next project is to make a square in remembrance of Eric for the Nevada suicide quilt and to try to get a quilt made up of Northern Nevada residents.

“All the squares have to have the same muslin background, but the rest can be different. He had these glow-in-the dark stars on his ceiling, maybe I’ll do something with stars,” she said.

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