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Hope Squad

Hope Squad is a school-based peer-to-peer program that empowers “squads” of students mentored by school counselors to take action to improve the school environment. Before a Hope Squad is implemented in a school, adult advisors attend training to prepare to serve in their role as mentor, supervisor and responder. Students are trained on how to recognize peers at risk for suicide, how not to keep a deadly secret and how to access immediate help from an adult.
The Hope Squad peer leader program model is based on several strands of research which suggest that teens are often the first to know about suicide risks in friends. Hope Squads train students, build connections and change culture by improving school climate and promoting connectedness. Creating a sense of belonging can be one of the best preventative measures within a school to help prevent suicide.

The Hope Squad builds upon the natural strengths of our students and staff, using age and grade appropriate curriculum-based training. Being on a Hope Squad is completely voluntary, and those offered memberships through a nomination process can decline. Additionally, parents are required to sign a permission form and play an important role in deciding if their child is a good fit for the Hope Squad.  

Hope Squads were developed with the best evidence in mind and they have goals and activities built on the foundation of suicide research:
  1. Increase the knowledge of suicide warning signs.
  2. Train entire school staff in suicide prevention and intervention.
  3. Create positive relationships among peers and faculty.
  4. Break the code of silence by training students to not keep deadly secrets.
  5. Raise awareness and acceptance for students to seek help from a trusted adult.
  6. Reduce self-destructive behavior and youth suicide.
  7. Educate students and parents about community mental health resources.  
  8. Build strong relationships with local mental health agencies.
  9. Improve identification of adolescents with undetected, undiagnosed, untreated emerging mental disorder.
  10. Change the school culture through suicide prevention awareness and mental health acceptance.
Hope Squads have been in operation in Utah since 2005. In the Provo City School District (the location of the flagship Hope Squad programs), suicide rates fell from one to two per year to zero deaths for the nine years after the program began.

“We’re looking to have 40–60 inaugural Hope Squad members,” says Mrs. Sheila Blanchfield, school counseling department chair, who explains that members are nominated by their peers for being concerned about others, good listeners who are easy to talk with, and someone you can turn to if you needed a friend . “These students will become invaluable eyes and ears in the community. They’ll see things on social media that adults don’t. They’ll see kids eating lunch alone. Hope Squad members will identify students or situations that need adult attention and will have the training and good judgment to tell an adult. This is already happening here at Loyola, but the Hope Squad formalizes the process and casts a much wider net.”

Loyola Academy is one of the first high schools in Illinois to launch a Hope Squad.

Elyssa’s Mission selected Loyola Academy as a Hope Squad school.  

Elyssa's Mission is supporting our school community by underwriting a significant portion of the program.
InstagramFollow the Hope Squad on Instagram.

Questions? Please contact Mrs. Sheila Blanchfield at 847.920.2523 or

Loyola Academy

1100 Laramie Avenue, Wilmette, Illinois 60091-1089  |  847-256-1100
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