ST. CHARLES – Seventeen-year-old Blakely Thomas knows that a lot of people her age feel alone.
But the St. Charles North High School junior wants to let them know they aren’t alone – that someone can always relate to their situation.
The teen is spreading that message through song.
On Monday, Thomas was one of several North students who participated in the HOPE Club’s presentation for Suicide Prevention Week, which is being recognized in every St. Charles School District 303 high school and middle school.
The HOPE Club raises awareness about the prevention of teen suicide and depression.
The district’s focus on suicide prevention stems from the 2009 Summit on Suicide Prevention, a communitywide event that was prompted by six student suicides in seven years.
During the summit, teachers heard something disturbing: students didn’t know who to turn to in times of stress, said Julie Pheney, one of three HOPE Club advisers at North. So, Pheney said, this year’s focus is the students’ “trusted” – the people students can turn to in times of crisis as well as celebration.
She described Monday’s presentation as a schoolwide effort that included video of staff members talking about how they care for – and are there for – the students.
Knowing students often need help outside of school hours, presentation organizers also included footage from a suicide lifeline so teens will know what to expect if they ever need to call it, HOPE Club advisers said.
Accompanying herself on piano, Thomas performed an original song that went along the presentation’s “trusted” theme.
Although Thomas can’t read music – she plays by ear – she said songwriting comes easily to her, and she gets inspiration from The Fray, a band whose hits include “How to Save a Life.”
She noted that performing is relatively new to her. Her first performance was during the HOPE Club presentation last year, she said.
She didn’t expect the positive reaction she got from “Falling,” one of the first songs she wrote, she said. The song describes what it’s like to go through a dark time feeling invisible and alone but ends with what it’s like to realize you don’t have to live under that haze, she said.
Students asked to buy the song, Thomas said, explaining that’s why it’s now available for 99 cents on iTunes.
The song she performed Monday, along with a spoken-word piece featuring her friend, also are available for purchase under the “Project Hope” album. Proceeds benefit TriCity Family Services.
On the Web
Visit district.d303.org to see a video of St. Charles North High School junior Blakely Thomas performing her original song, “Falling.”
“Falling,” along with other songs by Thomas, are available for purchase on iTunes under the album “Project Hope.” Thomas is donating proceeds of the sales to TriCity Family Services.