Hope Squad


Cynthia Wing, Staff Writer

Approximately, 130 Americans die by suicide everyday. The second leading cause of death for children, adolescents, and young adults, age 15 to 24, is suicide. Most suicides are often impulsive, and can be prevented at the last minute. 

Dr. Gregory A. Hudnall, a high school principal, created the Hope Squad, a task force designed to help save lives by identifying the key struggles that can lead a person to suicide, in 2004, with the help of his community and school district. In 1997, he was contacted by the Provo Police to identify a student who had taken his life in the park next to his school. Hudnall made a vow that he would do everything he could to prevent another child from taking their life.  Hope squad members are trained to take action when someone is struggling. Instead of waiting for a peer to come to them, Hope Squad members are the ones to reach out first.

Hope Squad is a peer to peer suicide prevention program. “And what that means,” Mrs. Nelson explained, “is that it’s a program where we have advisors, which are the adults, and students who are the squad members, hence the peer to peer. We teach the peers, the students, how to look for those kids who might be struggling mentally or feeling alone, feeling bullied, different things like that.” It’s not only about suicide, it’s also a bullying and mental health program. 

She introduced Hope Squad at AHS because her daughter died of suicide in 2017. Nelson knew her daugher struggled and “mental health was her [daughter’s] platform, what she spoke about to people, so it became my mission to do the same.”

When asked how she thinks Hope Squad will impact our school and everyone in it, she said that she thinks it will make people kinder. It will give students more confidence in themselves, but more importantly, hopefully stop a suicide that could happen. “That’s the most important part, obviously, is to hopefully help those that are having those thoughts and get them the help they need prior to the actual completion.” To join Hope Squad, students must be nominated. Nominations are the students at the school nominating the students that they feel are trustworthy, they feel like they could go to them to talk about feelings and problems that they may be having, and someone that is kind to everybody.

When asked why she thinks students should be in Hope Squad, she stated that she hopes it is because they want to be kind to others and help others. About six months after her daughter passed, Nelson found out about the program. She started checking in on the program. It has been about three years since she wanted to start Hope Squad. Alliance High School is not the only school in the panhandle with a Hope Squad. Hemmingford, Bayard, Chadron Middle School and numerous other schools have introduced them. 

To Mrs. Nelson, Hope Squad means “saving that one person that maybe wouldn’t have been saved.” The spud wishes Hope Squad luck and hopes it will have a positive impact on the students!



(suicide facts)

(suicide help)

(Hope Squad mission)