Arkansas Attorney General helps students promote positive message
By John Rech firstname.lastname@example.org
High school students from West Memphis United Methodist Church made a big presentation of their Destination Imagination project Tuesday night. Emma Barnett, Chris Blake, Lily Catt, and Blake White delivered a seminar on suicide awareness and prevention that included a very special keynote speaker, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. The quartet tackled the tough topic of suicide after experiencing the reality. Destination Imagination fosters creative problem solving using a groups collective imagination to forge innovation solutions. Its a hands on system of learning utilizing “three C’s” – Creativity, courage and curiosity. The Methodist students, the first church group to undertake the challenge, used doses of all three working through the school year to produce the seminar as a solution to the suicide issue. It was obvious the group did a lot of research and organized it well for the evening seminar. The speech from Rutledge served as a powerful kick off and the students continued with a complete power point presentation on frequently asked questions and well explained answers and compelling personal video testimony. “I actually thought about suicide when I was younger,” said Chris Blake.” I know what it feels like to go through that.” “My Grandpa committed suicide when I was 11,” said Burnett. “I just thought he passed away naturally. a few years later I realized it was suicide.” Associate Pastor Dr. Michelle Morris, the adult leader for the Destination Imagination group, said that cyber-bullying leads victims to consider suicide. The Attorney General picked up on that theme, one that stemmed back to her campaign for office, and delivered a two part address talking about Cyber bullying and prescription drug abuse as factor leading to suicide. She urged parents to monitor online activities apps and especially chats to insure safety for their children. The old adage about don’t talk to strangers still applies. She took two plus one with students and one with parents. About one hundred audience participants raised hands about who had been online, texting, watched a video or had been on snap chat that day. Most all the kid responded to each question. Some adults didn’t even know about the different formats. “Do your children really know who they are chatting with online?” asked Rutledge. “Do they know them in real life? So they have a picture, is that really them? How do you know it is not really a stranger posing, being friendly but wants to do you harm.” “At five foot two, I know what it is to be bullied,” said Rutledge. “Too many students go toward suicide because of bullying. I see the statistics and hear the cases in my office.” She pointed to three keys for parents to help their children monitor, and report the bullying, and the hard part, to ignore and not respond to the provocations. Rutledge speech closed with an examination of prescription drug abuse. She said some students raid the household prescription cabinet and start a ‘skittle’ party. “They pour the drugs into a bowl and have a skittle party,” said Rutledge. “In Arkansas, 21 percent of teenagers have tried prescription drugs. They think they are safe because a doctor prescribed them, but they are not. We are loosing more and more teens to prescription overdose and suicide. More people die each year from prescription drug overdose than car accidents. No one wants to think about some one they know committed suicide because of an addiction that started in your own medicine cabinet.” Rutledge urged the audience to dispose of their unused prescriptions at the receptacle in the county sheriff office.