Hope springs eternal, and this spring, an uplifting sea of yellow will greet all who enter ConVal High School’s front doors.
“It shows that right when you walk through these doors, it’s going to be positive,” said senior Hannah Doherty, one of a group of students who planted a hope garden with 1,000 yellow tulips on Monday afternoon to raise awareness about mental illness after teenage students in both the ConVal and Jaffrey-Rindge school districts died by suicide in recent weeks. “In the middle school, in ConVal, we’ve lost kids, we’ve had a lot of traumas,” Doherty said. “It’s been hard for kids here. We’ve gotten a lot of support but I wanted to do more.”
Doherty, Rosie Crooker and Cruz DellaSanta led the student group, which teamed with the Yellow Tulip Project, a national nonprofit out of Maine, to fight the negative stigma of mental illness. The Yellow Tulip Project provided 1,000 bulbs, and with the help of the Peterborough Garden Club, students planted them in a small garden around the flagpole on ConVal’s front apron on Monday. This spring, the tulips should bloom bright yellow, the color symbolic of suicide awareness and prevention.
“It’s supposed to be an annual reminder that we’re a community and we’re here for each other, and we can support each other,” Doherty said. “I know mental health is a really scary topic for some people but it’s time we actually start talking about it and start doing something about it, and that’s what this whole thing is about.”
“We’re hoping that this makes it a more prevalent conversation and that people aren’t scared,” Crooker, clad in yellow, said while taking a break from shoveling dirt and planting bulbs.
“I think for a long time, mental health was something kids were really scared to talk about,” Doherty said. “It was kind of embarrassing – ‘I don’t want to talk about this’ – and actually, it really affects kids, it eats them up inside, and bad things happen from it, so having something like this brings people together and shows them it’s ok to ask for help and it’s ok to be in these situations, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Eventually, the group hopes to install a plaque explaining the garden and providing resources, like a suicide hotline number.
“Don’t be afraid to reach out,” DellaSanta said. “Someone’s there for you, no matter what.”
Some local and national resources for those struggling with mental illness or thoughts of self-harm include:
The Grapevine: grapevinenh.org
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Crisis Text Line: Text 741741 from anywhere in the US
NAMI New Hampshire: www.naminh.org
The River Center: rivercenter.us