By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
ZERO REASONS WHY: Teens get involved in promoting mental health
Preventing teen suicide is one goal of ZRW
Zero Reasons Why participants display a banner at a Hoisington High School football game.

HOISINGTON — Jennifer Steinert noticed a basket of yellow bracelets when she stopped by Hope Randolph’s office one day at Hoisington High School.

Steinert is the business instructor there and Randolph is the school counselor.

“I asked Hope what the bracelets were for,” Steinert recalled. “She explained they are used as tools to raise awareness about teen mental health and suicide as part of the Zero Reasons Why (ZRW) campaign.

“I was immediately inspired by the idea of helping prevent teen suicide and removing the stigma associated with mental-health issues.”

As a result, Steinert mentioned the teen-led campaign at the first meeting of her Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) group. “I was overwhelmed by the response and enthusiasm from the students who wanted to become involved. This is a compassionate group of young people.

“I thought a few would want to be involved but about half of the 47 FBLA members are active and more are being added all the time. They have so many ideas to share that I have a hard time jotting them all down.”

The reasons for involvement are as varied as the students. “They all have unique life experiences,” Steinert noted. “Some may be dealing with mental-health issues of their own or dealt with them in the past.

“Or maybe they know someone who has struggled. They all realize teens have a lot going on and truly want to help anyone who is struggling.”

For Randolph, teen suicide is especially personal. Her 14-year-old son, Devin, took his own life last year.

“This issue is obviously near and dear to my heart,” she said. “It really means a lot to me that students are making this awareness campaign a priority at Hoisington High School.”

Randolph had been at the school only two months when her family’s tragedy occurred. “The staff and students really rallied around me and supported me. I am so impressed now at the level of involvement in Zero Reasons Why and the students’ desire to take the lead in this campaign.

“They recognize the importance of talking about suicide and mental-health issues. They see the impact on others and want to help make a change. I am grateful the students are taking on this project and running with it.”

One of those students is Kortney Lang, 16, who noted “this is an important cause. Mental-health issues and suicidal ideation are growing problems and Zero Reasons Why could be a way to change that in our school.

“This project could make a difference in the lives of those who are struggling; it might even show them the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Lang believes ZRW is a good campaign for future business leaders because “no matter where you are, some of the people around you are going to struggle. Everyone has problems and helping people deal with those problems is a lifelong skill.”

FBLA members also are working on a presentation for Hoisington Middle School to encourage students there to get involved in ZRW.

“The negative feelings that result in mental-health issues can begin in middle school,” Lang commented. “There is a lot of bullying in that age group. But those being bullied don’t want to talk about it. They just deal with it on their own.

“If they know about Zero Reasons Why, maybe they will reach out and discover they have support. I hope they do.”

The Hoisington teens also have scheduled a presentation at Stafford High School. “If any school wants to get involved, we would recommend starting small and watching it grow over time,” Lang suggested.

Julie Kramp, executive director of The Center for Counseling & Consultation, hopes “others are inspired by the Hoisington students. They have such enthusiasm and great ideas; we are eager to see the ripple effect of their involvement. They are truly making a difference.”

The Center for Counseling & Consultation is a Community Mental Health Center serving Barton, Pawnee, Rice and Stafford counties. Professionally trained personnel offer: individual and group therapy; marriage and family counseling; community-support services; community-based services; psychosocial rehabilitation; peer support; and medication management. The confidential 24/7 crisis hotline number is 800-875-2544.

The Zero Reasons Why campaign draws attention in the halls of Hoisington High School.

How students raised awareness

Participants in the Zero Reasons Why (ZRW) campaign at Hoisington High School outlined some of their activities to raise awareness about mental health issues.

• Students wrote on a banner at the first home football game by filling in the blank after Zero Reasons Why. For example, there are Zero Reasons Why you should be ashamed; ZRW we can’t stop teen suicide; ZRW you shouldn’t be kind; and ZRW you shouldn’t speak your mind.

• Students distributed information about teen suicide, along with the hotline number. They included the visiting team in these efforts.

• During halftime, Kortney Lang, a 16-year-old Hoisington student, addressed the crowd. Her message was to: remember those affected by suicide; raise awareness; and encourage treatment for those who need it.

• Students encouraged peers to write on cards posted on a school bulletin board. Many filled in the blank after the words Zero Reasons Why.

• Weekly motivational emails are sent to students. Here is one example. “You are important. Your feelings matter. Your story matters. Your life matters.”

• Participants continue to work on Hoisington projects; they also are reaching out to nearby school districts.