Please forgive me if I am not correct in some of the things that I think that I understood about, "Making My Mark." If I am understanding correctly this is the 1st time that they held events like this for the community. From my understanding they have spoke to groups, churches, etc.. But, the 1st time they have spoken inside the schools.
Let me 1st begin by explaining, "Making My Mark." Making My Mark started when Mr. & Mrs. Dunlap lost their son to Suicide. The reason that Mr. Dunlap wanted to start talking about it was because he did not want other people to have to go through what they went through and still going through. To bring awareness of the signs that someone you may know is suicidal. Mark Evan Dunlap was born July 26, 1987 and he took his life on February 23, 2015.
Let me do an introduction of the people on the above picture. Starting from Left to the Right: Lisa Simmons (SDOC = School District Oconee County Assistant Superintendent of Instruction), Eddie Adams (Father), Miranda (I believe that is her name and I believe she works in counseling between Walhalla and Seneca), Stacy Frick (Daughter), Lisa Martin (Mother), Hal Dunlap (Father and Founder of Making My Mark), and Christy Hubbard (Mother). **Please feel free to make a comment if any of this information is incorrect and apologize ahead of time.**
First I would like to tell this group thank you so much for sharing your stories. I know that it was not easy to share and commend you for doing whatever it takes to help others, even if it means to continue to open your wound of pain.
Christy Hubbard is the mother of "Clay" Clayton Adam Porter. Clay was born on July 31, 1998 and took his own life on September 22, 2018. Christy explained that her son was an outgoing person and that he was that friend that everyone could come to if they needed someone. Tears streaming down her face, Christy continued to say that she noticed things beginning to change with Clay when he was prescribed Adderall. Clay became more quiet and withdrawn she explained. Although it can not be proven Christy believes that Adderall is what led Clay to take his own life. She asked the audience to please look up the side effects of Adderall. This week was a challenge for Christy because it was a year ago.
Lisa Martin is the mother of Andrew James Martin. Andrew was born on February 26, 1999 and took his own life on May 7, 2018. Lisa shared that Andrew was born in Europe and they adopted him when he was 8 years of age. She said that Andrew had a very bad past of abandonment, physical, and emotional abuse his first of his childhood. Andrew had went to counseling, diagnosed with PSTD, and went threw the treatment plan and finished counseling. As Lisa continued she stated that she did not know what happened. That the Andrew that was the outgoing young man, turned to very quiet and withdrawn.
Ms. Martin stated that there was a time when her son, Andrew came downstairs and told her that he thinks that he made a mistake. He had tried to take his own life. They took him to a facility and he was admitted and after just a week they released him to go home. Even though Andrew's parents did not think that he was ready to come home and even told the doctors that, with Andrew being 19 years old, they did not have a say. The hospital released him. (I am uncertain the time frame between then and when he took his life).. As Ms. Martin fought the tears, some escaping, her voice choking..
Ms. Martin explains how she hugged him that morning and even though he told her that he loved her that morning.. she did not know the signs that could of saved his life. She came home to find her son in their backyard.
Stacy Frick is a daughter, however she had a different story. She shared that her mother has Bipolar Disorder, also known as manic depressive disorder. Ms. Frick gives an example of her being a teenager, just 14 years old and her little brother that was 12 years old at the time. Whenever her father was late, her mother would assume that he was out cheating and go into these manic states. This particular time, she had a gun and even shot it twice.
Understand this.. Ms. Frick was explaining it as a daughter of a mother, that was constantly saying, I would be better off dead.. If I were dead... etc what it does to someone emotionally. Ms. Frick states that her mother is doing a lot better. She is on medication and has been in and out mental hospitals.
Eddie Adams is a father. Mr. Adams began his speech at West-Oak Middle by saying, Hello my name is Eddie and I have severe depression. Then he proceeded to say, that the reaction that most would have is totally different then if he had said, Hello my name is Eddie and I am addicted to drugs and alcohol. Mr. Adams at Walhalla started off by reading some of his journal entries. Eddie is the father of 2 teenage boys.
Mr. Adams explained that his father committed suicide in October of 2006. Yes, he states that his father was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. However, that is maybe one of the reasons he took his own life, but another reason was because his father never dealt with his father taking his own life in 1976. That is correct. Mr. Adam's father and grandfather took their own life.
Mr. Adams explains that even though he was doing really well (what people can see).. inside his head he could not control that situation. Therefore, in 2014 Mr. Adams went out west and committed himself to a facility for 30 days to get help. He states that no one really knew where he went that most thought that he went on a vacation somewhere. However, that he is thankful that he did go and stuck it out. Because he states that on December 27, 2016 his wife died of cancer.
Mr. Adams explains that yes it was a struggle. However, with the tools that he learned at the facility he was able to handle his thoughts and because of him getting himself help he truly believes that is the reason that his 2 teenage boys have their father today. He is certain that without that help he wouldn't be here today. There is help out here he states and urges people to seek the help to take care of themselves.
**These are their stories.. and even though these stories were very difficult for them to share, I witnessed (Including myself) many wiping their tears away and I hope that the tears that I saw being wiped away that these teen-agers and adults will share what they have learned and what they learned for themselves from the speeches given.**
Now let's cover some information that the schools are doing here in Oconee County.
There is a program that all elementary schools are participating in and only Walhalla Middle School. It is called: OLWEUS: "The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program is designed to improve peer relations and make schools safer, more positive places for students to learn and develop... reducing existing bullying problems among students, preventing the development of new bullying problems. achieving better peer relations at school.
What is Social Emotional Learning (SEL)? According to http://sanfordharmony.org states, "Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary for being a healthy adult. This includes problem-solving skills, as well as teaching kids to embrace diversity and build healthy relationships that will last well into adulthood."
These are the programs that Oconee School District have implemented:
Another program that Oconee District has is called, BARK Bark is a software program that flag words that are typed on devices that are connected to the district network. I also went online to find out about this and this is also offered to parents for a fee. Bark can monitor text messages, YouTube, E-mails, and 24 different Social networks for potential safety concerns. According to Bark's website: http://bark.us it states they are "In partnership with parents and schools. 3.6 million children protected. 16 school shootings prevented. 20 thousand severe self-harm situations detected."
At Seneca Middle School they have a program that they are using called: "Second Step." According to: http://secondstep.org Second Step is a program rooted in social-emotional learning (SEL) that helps transform schools into supportive, successful learning environments uniquely equipped to encourage children to thrive. Second Step's holistic approach helps create a more empathetic society by providing education professionals, families, and larger community with tools to enable them to take an active role in the social-emotional growth and safety of today's children.
At West-Oak Middle School they are piloting the 1st year a program called: "Choose Love." According to Scarlett Lewis, Founder of the Jessie Lewis Choose Love Movement she states this: "Although we can't always choose what happens to us, we can always choose how to respond. Children can learn to choose a loving thought over an angry one. When a child realizes that they have the power to positively impact themselves as well as those around them, it is empowering and perpetuates their positive actions and interactions." Choose Love focuses on 4 characteristics: Courage, Gratitude, Forgiveness, and Compassion.
At James M. Brown Elementary they are using a program called: "Sanford Harmony." Their themes are: Diversity & Inclusion, Empathy & Critical Thinking, Communication, Problem Solving, and Peer Relationships.
I do realize that this is a very long blog with a lot of information. I am including pictures of the slideshow they had given during their presentations. However, I am a supporter in being a foot soldier spreading the word around as much as I can and I believe if this helps one person out here from ending their life and seeking the help that they need then, "Making My Mark," and it's speakers have made it worth it to them. Please share!
I also, hope that if you have a story, you can put in Comments below that could help change lives, that you will also take a stand as they have done.. and join their crusade in bringing, Suicide Prevention to Not just a month to recognize it.. but a daily issue to help change lives, one at a time.
***Just my ramblings for today***