We are members of communities across this country/world who are empowering people (of all ages) to raise awareness about and to prevent youth/teen suicide. We work to coordinate appropriate education, training and collaboration with local and national resources to build sustainable suicide prevention programs.
The Light for Life Foundation Int’l/Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program® is dedicated to preventing suicide and attempts by Making Suicide Prevention Accessible to Everyone and Removing Barriers to Help.
The program began in 1994 in response to heartfelt pleas from teens and adults after the death of a friend and loved one, Mike Emme (17). Words said by his family – “please don’t do this, please talk to someone” were put on bright yellow paper along with phone numbers / who to call to get help. Teens pinned yellow ribbons on 500 slips of those yellow papers for his services and at the end, all were gone. Teens began to mail them ‘everywhere’ to friends and loved ones. Within three weeks came word of a girl who got help when she gave her yellow message* she had received in the mail to her teacher and received help. The Ripple Effect had begun – a bright yellow bridge that connects those in need to those who help.
* The messages (those yellow slips of paper) became the hallmark of the program – the Ask 4 Help!® Card.
Yellow became the symbol of the program when the teens began bringing us tons of yellow flowers and started tying yellow ribbons in their hair, pinning them on their clothes/hats on the day Mike died, in memory of Mike and his cherished yellow 1968 Ford Mustang. He helped so many people with that car.
You can also read how it all started in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Third Serving (1997) and Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul (2000).
THE RIPPLE EFFECT… what came next, see OUR WORK page.
• Become a member of the Light for Life Foundation International-Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program. Your membership fee helps provide materials to teens who request them and you will receive our newsletter to keep you informed of events and news.
• Volunteer to help with a committee, such as the Yellow Ribbon Week committee.
• Join our Speakers Bureau and give talks to teen groups.
• Help us with the administrative side of things – stuff packets, make phone calls, etc.
• “It’s OK to Ask 4 Help®” – CD or DVD, 8 minutes in length, to the point and emotionally compelling.
• Yellow Ribbon lapel pins
• Yellow Ribbon Decals, Lanyards and Bracelets
• The Yellow Ribbon Program Toolkit on Community Action Guidelines and Suicide Prevention Training is available
Talk, Talk, Talk. The old myth that talking about suicide is risky is TOTALLY FALSE. Talking is the first step in trying to prevent it. It is the act which may break through the isolation that a suicidal person feels. One out of every five youths is already thinking about suicide and one out of ten will make an attempt. (source: San Diego City Schools, additional source: Washington State Department of Health.)
• Introduce the program to your friends by giving them yellow ribbon cards and explaining the Lifeskill.
• Talk to health teachers about using the program in health curriculum when discussing suicide.
• Talk to your school counselors/peer listeners about distributing the cards in the counseling office.
• Wear a yellow ribbon pin to prompt questions and show you are someone who cares. (Enamel Yellow Ribbon pins are available for purchase from the Light for Life Foundation.)
• Work with school administrators, have an assembly for the school. To do this, it may help to follow these steps:\
• Show the Yellow Ribbon Introduction CD/DVD to give a quick overview of the scope of the problem of teen suicide and how the Program addresses it.
• Introduce all school faculty; counselors, teachers, coaches, janitors, etc. (every adult at the school) to the program in case a student gives them a card.
• Have a plan of action, i.e. where to call for help in your community when there is a crisis and make sure everyone knows what to do.
• Hold a presentation/training for students with a showing of the video, distribution of Yellow Ribbon Cards and brochures and a speaker who can talk from the heart about suicide (someone who lost someone or someone who made an attempt). If you would like to host Dale and Dar Emme in person, contact us at 303.429.3530 for more information.
• Promote the program with yellow ribbons around campus, an article in the school newspaper and other ways.
• Hold a parent night or community forum immediately after the school presentation and invite parents to hear the same information you gave the students. This is very important. Many parents are unaware that there is a suicide problem at all, let alone a possible problem with their own child. This “not my kid” syndrome is common and is a battle to overcome. At the very least send home a letter to all parents informing them that information was given to their kid about a suicide prevention program and encourage them to discuss it.
• Don’t forget to follow up with plenty of cards always available around the school (counseling office, administrative office, gym, etc.)
• Make a presentation again next year to the incoming/freshman class.
• Make presentations at schools, churches, community groups, school board meetings, PTA meetings etc. (show the video “No More Tomorrows” for a quick yet powerful introduction.)
• Hold events such as Yellow Ribbon Week and ask your mayor to declare it Yellow Ribbon Week.
• Hold a fundraising or awareness event. Team up with survivor groups (i.e. Survivors of Suicide)
• Inform the media with press releases about your group and events. Create a press kit.
• Find a mental health professional who is an advocate of the Yellow Ribbon program and use him/her as a media spokesperson when an “expert” is needed to comment.
• Do research in your town to find the annual number of suicides and the budget for suicide prevention programs.
Present the program to the class – using Yellow Ribbon presentation materials, curriculum and CDs, DVDs, Flashdrives & Digital Downloads.
The story of the Yellow Ribbon Program has been written about in a number of places:
• A 3rd Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul, 1996, – “For the Love of a Child”
• Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, 1997, – “I’ll Always Be with You”
• Family Circle Magazine, 8/4/98, – “Light for Life – Women Who Make a Difference”
The Yellow Ribbon Program is based on the premise that suicide is not just about death, but rather about ending pain and that it’s OK to ask for help. Yellow Ribbon cards are distributed and carried as a simple, effective tool to use to ask for help when feelings of suicide arise. The card has proven to be a lifeline because it is a reminder to young people that they have permission to ask for help, it helps them talk when they may not have the words and it tells the recipient of the card how to help the suicidal person.
Thanks to the Light for Life Foundation of Southern California Chapter for contributing information to this page.