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Dexter Regional High Schools students plant hope

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DEXTER — A group of Dexter Regional High School students recently planted a garden of yellow tulips for The Yellow Tulip Project – a movement started by Maine high school student Julia Hansen who lost two close friends to suicide her sophomore year. The idea behind the project is to create awareness and reduce the stigma of mental illness while honoring those who have lost their mental health battle to suicide. The garden will serve as something to look forward to after a cold Maine winter.

In March Dexter Regional High School hosted its first summit on Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention. The summit started with an all-school assembly with Dr. Rebecca Swartz-Mette from the University of Maine, who shared the warning signs and recommendations on what to do in a mental health crisis. From there, the students heard from Julia Hanson, a then junior at Casco Bay High School in Portland, who lost two friends to suicide. In their memory, Hanson created The Yellow Tulip Project to help raise awareness and acceptance about mental health issues.

One of the takeaways from the event was how important this information is to share not only with other high schools across the state but also with the Dexter Regional High School Maine Seeds program. Some program members have experienced trauma over the years, so recognizing the signs of distress and knowing what to do have become vitally important. Statistics indicate that statewide suicide is on the rise across all age groups, and since the advent of social media students nationally are dealing with mental health issues on a more consistent basis than ever before.

The garden was planted as a symbol of hope and beauty. As a Maine Seeds program, those involved are hoping to continue this connection with both women and feel that all Seeds participants could benefit from it.

Contributed photo
YELLOW TULIP PROJECT GARDEN — Earlier in the fall Dexter Regional High School students planted a garden for The Yellow Tulip Project, to help raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental illness while honoring those who have lost their mental health battle to suicide. Pictured are front, from left, Autumn Irwin, Mathison Deering, Shannon O’Roak and Kaylee Harris. Back, Janette Patterson (with sign), Amber-Lynn Jusczak, Lindsey Shaw, Kaitlyn Webber, Olivia Webber, Ethan Boutilier, John Lane, Andrew Carlow and Christopher Roderka.

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