Sources of Strength (SOS) is a suicide prevention program at Portage Collegiate Institute that annually trains students in a group setting. The team met last week for the first time this school year. 

Career and opportunities counselor Kellee Clifford-Bousquet says they're all set to see the campaigns begin to kick off.

"The kids will plan the things we're going to do and we'll have a Sources Of Strength Week the week before March break and then have campaigns throughout the year," says Clifford-Bousquet. "Staff recommends students to be involved and students can come and recommend, as well. What we're looking for is a diverse group of peers who have connections to all of our groups in PCI. We train these kids and then we ask them to go out and share what they've learned with ten people in the hopes that those ten people share with ten more."

She notes they're about 11 years into the program, having started with 40 students and about 80 to 90 are involved.

"If they can't come for the training and they'd still like to be part of SOS and help us with our campaigns, that's allowed, as well, especially if they've had the training previous years," continues Clifford-Bousquet. We don't spend all our time talking about suicide. We focus on our strength, so there are eight strengths. It's actually a program from South Dakota created by a social worker."

She notes the creator of the program was very frustrated by attending so many funerals for kids who died by suicide. This inspired him to research what would work best to help grow programs as well as connectivity in schools to help prevent kids from getting to that point where they're thinking about dying.

"We build on the eight strengths that he created, help our kids to figure out how they can build those strengths, and help others build those strengths," notes Clifford-Bousquet. 

Grade 12 student Jessica Rangel says she feels it's nice helping others and learning these skills. 

Grade 12 student Brook Chaske notes since learning these skills, they've become helpful when friends personally come and share what's going on in their lives.

"I'm able to use the knowledge that we learn in these sessions and also in other meetings."

Rangel adds she can notice the little details they learned, such as someone being upset, so she can talk to them in private and see what's wrong.

PCI also has a Leadership Team and those students were all invited to be part of the SOS program. 


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