As school counselors, it is important that we empower students to assist their peers when they are facing a potential crisis situation. Unfortunately, we cannot be everywhere so teaching our students what to do when a friend is in trouble can potentially save a life. Recently, an educator from New Zealand reached out to me with some free resources she wanted to share with other educators. She has written about the reasons for creating these resources and has graciously provided links to her resources for readers. Please feel free to share with your colleagues!
We have all had times in our lives where we have been in crisis. At some point we have chosen someone to talk to about it. Some of us will have had a really supportive and positive response in that moment and others…not so much. “Are You The Chosen One” has been created for that moment. We all know how important that “first response” can be. In my own life, my “first responses” haven’t always been supportive and positive and it has determined the way I have handled and coped with the crisis and also how I handled the next one.
A few years ago I found myself in a situation that took a huge toll on me personally. Once on the other side and reflecting on it all I just couldn’t believe how badly it had affected me. I had completely withdrawn from life and had lost “me”. During my healing process, I wrote the Finding My Voice poem. I then started to create a teaching resource based around that poem with the focus of encouraging students to find their voice and speak up. During that time, I got to the part of ‘what can you do to help a friend in crisis’ and found that I couldn’t stop writing. This was the turning point for me.
I sat on the idea for a while – life and helping siblings through their own crisis took over. I finally talked to a friend early this year about the idea the resource was now taking. The focus had changed from encouraging students to speak up, to, when they do speak up, making sure they are heard.
During this time, my own 14 year daughter found herself ‘the chosen one’. Her friend messaged her one night and things got serious! After helping our daughter help her friend through the situation we debriefed! She said “mum, you need to get this finished. We just don’t know what to say or do.” Being 14 years old at an all-girls school of 1300 is pretty full on!
My first meeting was with the counsellor at Whangarei Girls High School. I talked with her about the idea of trying to provide first responses for students. A resource that was – for them, at their level, in their ‘speak’. Short, sweet, eye catching but informative. Easy to read, easy to remember. I came away from her office in tears – mostly because of what some of our kids are dealing with but also because she had given me the courage to go for it and confirmed how badly it was needed.
A couple weeks later I had the first draft of the posters. A dear friend then also got involved. She is a chaplain but also teaches on suicide awareness and takes seminars for community leaders. We tweaked and re-tweaked, checked and double checked and had cups of tea! And I kept crying! She said this wasn’t just for students and in her opinion adults needed to know this as well! I was also lucky enough that my DP/year 7&8 teacher/ICT extraordinaire husband was on sabbatical. He had finished his research paper for the sabbatical so started on the website side of it all.
Final checks done, everybody happy and “Are You The Chosen One” was launched. The title came to me about 10:30 one night after weeks of brainstorming what the resource could be called! No surprises – I cried again! I was so excited with that wording! It creates curiosity!
My heart behind the resource is to provide suggestions for what the ‘first response’ can be. It hopefully will give confidence to know how to handle a situation if a friend comes and shares something that they are going through, mainly so that person feels heard, supported and comfortable. But just as important is the info on the website which is focused on the ‘next steps’. The next steps are there to help provide ideas and suggestions for how to continue to support the friend in crisis but make sure that they – the chosen one, don’t end up in crisis themselves! The poem that started it all is also on the site.
I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to share “Are You The Chosen One”. The 6 ‘what can I say’ posters on the site are free to download, print and display.