In the fall of 2006, three students at Waukegan High School took their own lives. The last of the three occurred the day before Christina Connolly–Wilson and her husband Gregory Wilson attended The OprahWinfrey Show.
Christina is an elementary school psychologist and leader of Waukegan's public school crisis management. She knows how unusual it is to have three suicides in one year at a single high school. She and Gregory decide to use their $2,000 in challenge money to purchase suicide prevention kits for two high schools and three middle schools in her area. The kits educate teachers, staff and students on suicide warning signs and how to help a student who may be considering taking his or her own life. They also used the money to buy 400 cards with suicide hotline information printed in Spanish and English.
"I feel that the gift will help end the contagion that exists at the high school and save the lives of the students there," Christina says. "It will also educate our students, staff and parents on the risk factors of suicide and how to get help when needed."
As part of Christina's presentation to the high school, three students talk about the program. One who knew two of the students who died says, "We couldn't save our friends but maybe with this program we could save somebody else's so it's worth it, I think. In the end it will all be worth it."
In fact, the program may have saved some lives already. After Christina's presentation, several students came forward to report concerns about their friends. Two students were treated for suicidal thoughts and released without incident.