Zero Reasons Why campaign holds lunchtime event at North

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Zero Reasons Why campaign holds lunchtime event at North

Smiling at students approaching the table, Zero Reasons Why representative Cindy Knudsen helps hold a banner-signing event at North during lunch April 3. “It’s been encouraging to see how many teens really care about this message,

Smiling at students approaching the table, Zero Reasons Why representative Cindy Knudsen helps hold a banner-signing event at North during lunch April 3. “It’s been encouraging to see how many teens really care about this message," Knudsen said. "I’ve been so encouraged just to meet students at every single high school who actually want to help their peers.”

photo by Grace Altenhofen

Smiling at students approaching the table, Zero Reasons Why representative Cindy Knudsen helps hold a banner-signing event at North during lunch April 3. “It’s been encouraging to see how many teens really care about this message," Knudsen said. "I’ve been so encouraged just to meet students at every single high school who actually want to help their peers.”

photo by Grace Altenhofen

photo by Grace Altenhofen

Smiling at students approaching the table, Zero Reasons Why representative Cindy Knudsen helps hold a banner-signing event at North during lunch April 3. “It’s been encouraging to see how many teens really care about this message," Knudsen said. "I’ve been so encouraged just to meet students at every single high school who actually want to help their peers.”

Grace Altenhofen, Editor-in-Chief

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Representatives from the suicide prevention campaign Zero Reasons Why spoke to students during lunch on April 3.

The name Zero Reasons Why was created as a play on the book and Netflix series Thirteen Reasons Why, in which a character used 13 reasons to justify her suicide. After the Netflix series became popular, superintendents from six Johnson County school districts collaborated to create a suicide prevent campaign.

“It actually started with the six superintendents in each of the school districts really just wanting to approach the topic of suicide prevention and wanting to do something about it,” said Cindy Knudsen, a field journalist who works for the campaign. “Personally, I got connected with Overflow, which is the production/marketing company behind Zero Reasons Why. I have a video background, and I heard they were looking for someone to go out into the schools.”

For Knudsen, the campaign was a way to use her skills to help others.

“For me, it’s a really cool mix of creative work with the video and photography but also interacting with people,” Knudsen said. “I get to spread a positive message while using my degree. My role is to go into schools and hear teens’ stories.”

According to Knudsen, listening to people’s stories is beneficial unto itself.

“There’s scientific evidence that sharing your story actually helps with the healing progress,” Knudsen said. “If you’re able to talk about it and share your story with others, it helps the brain heal. It’s been really cool, giving students a platform to help in that healing process and encouraging others in that process.”

SM North junior Zen Molder, who works with Zero Reasons Why as a student representative, agrees that having conversations surrounding mental health is a step in the right direction.

“It’s just a good movement to be a part of,” Molder said. “It’s good to be focused on the subject even though it’s a hard subject to be a part of and talk about. It’s just really important to me.”

Knudsen said the message of Zero Reasons Why has resonated with many students.

“It’s been encouraging to see how many teens really care about this message,” Knudsen said. “I’ve been so encouraged just to meet students at every single high school who actually want to help their peers.”

For Knudsen, students’ willingness to talk openly about mental health issues came as a surprise.

“I’ve been surprised at how open and vulnerable kids are,” Knudsen said. “There’s such a stigma around mental health and really what I’ve seen from these students is fighting that stigma.”

According to Steff Hedenkamp, director of public affairs for Zero Reasons Why, students’ desire to eliminate stigmas surrounding mental health has led to student activism in schools.

“The campaign is basically two main aspects of storytelling and the community mobilization effort,” Hedenkamp said. “There’s a lot of students doing things, like they’re forming clubs or starting mental health weeks. It’s great to be able to see what everyone’s doing. All that stuff helps with preventing teen suicide and helping kids before they get to crisis.”

The next demonstration of activism will be in the form of a march and rally held on April 27 at 5 p.m. Banners, similar to the one containing messages from North students, from 20 high schools in the Johnson County area will be carried in a march to the Blue Valley Athletic Complex. However, North’s role in suicide prevention will be ongoing, led by students like Molder.

“We’ve got a lot of signs that are going to be going out in the front lawn,” Molder said. “We’ve been getting a lot of positive stuff about it and we have a lot of people signing, a lot more than I thought we would’ve gotten. It’s a really cool movement and I’m glad we’re doing something about it.”

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