With multiple suicides that have unfortunately taken place around the metro area in the past few months, Basehor-Linwood High School parents are wanting to do everything they can to make sure nothing like that happens to the children in local schools.

A parent meeting took place last week with the purpose of bringing awareness of suicide, depression and anxiety in high schoolers. Because the subject can be taboo, parents wanted to pool ideas and resources to let students know they are not alone and that someone is always available to listen to them if they need to talk.

“We cannot turn our back to our teens,” said parent Erin Drennon. “We want them to know that they matter and they are not alone.”

Drennon and Jennifer Bizzell started the support group in Basehor. The subject is close to Drennon’s heart. Her oldest daughter suffered from depression during her senior year at BLHS. It took four months before her daughter shared the issue with her parents because it is not something that is talked about in school. 

Bizzell wanted to support and help her friend as a concerned parent, letting children know it is OK to suffer from mental illness.

“You don’t have to be ashamed to speak out and let a friend, parent, teacher or coach know that you are struggling with depression or suicide,” Drennon said. “Once more kids speak out, then they find that their friend or other kids at school are more than likely suffering from the same thing.”

It took Drennon’s daughter a year and one-half to feel comfortable enough to share her story. She quickly found out that many other people her age are suffering from depression as well. 

Erin Drennon will also be talking to the staff and faculty at BLHS as well as some small classes and groups to let everyone know how to recognize signs of depression.

While there haven’t been any incidents at BLHS or Basehor Middle School, the Drennons and Bizzells wanted to be proactive instead of reactive within the school and community. The hope is to reach out to the students before anything tragic might happen.

The parents discussed different support strategies that can be offered to students and school staff, including plans for an upcoming sign brigade near the school with parents holding signs with positive affirmations.  

"Our main goal is to come together as a community and let our kids know that they are loved and they matter. We hope to bring the topic of suicide and depression into our schools so our kids will feel more comfortable reaching out to a friend, teacher, coach or parent. I hope they will learn if they are suffering from this mental illness, they should not be ashamed or embarrassed. The more they talk about it, the more they may find out their friend is suffering from depression as well,” Drennon said.

For additional information, visit the group’s Facebook page, “Basehor Parents In Action.”

Beth Kornegay is a freelance writer covering news and events in the city of Basehor. If you have a story idea, email her at gabi_kansas@yahoo.com