High school athletes raise awareness of depression and suicide

Over the past month, high school student-athletes from ten local schools have participated in Aevidum Awareness Basketball Games. Through a grant from the Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services, a Lancaster-based nonprofit organization, Aevidum teamed up with local schools throughout the Berks, Lancaster, Philadelphia, and York County areas to raise awareness of youth depression and suicide.

At each game, all participating student-athletes, team managers, and coaches wore Aevidum t-shirts, which were designed by a Cocalico High School Aevidum student. During the game, an Aevidum club member read an announcement introducing Aevidum and encouraging spectators to learn the warning signs of depression and suicide, reach out to those in need, and have their friends and family members backs. Student club members staffed a table at each event, providing resources noting the warning signs of teen depression, instructions to help a friend in need, and additional information about Aevidum as well as wristbands containing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number, 1-800-273-8255.

Hempfield High School hosted the first Aevidum Awareness Games in its annual boys basketball holiday tournament that also featured Wilson (West Lawn), Central York, and South Philadelphia from Dec. 27 through Dec. 28. During the month of the January, Elizabethtown Area High School girls basketball hosted Cocalico High School on Jan. 23, while Ephrata Area High School traveled to Warwick High School for a boys and girls doubleheader on Jan. 24. The final Aevidum Awareness Game featured Berks County boys basketball with Schuylkill Valley at Twin Valley on Jan. 28.

About Aevidum: Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year olds, claiming the lives of nearly 100 Pennsylvania teens each year. Aevidum was founded at Cocalico High School in 2004 after a student died by suicide. The word Aevidum, which was created by students, means Ive got your back.

Aevidum now exists at the club level in over 50 elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and colleges and has spread to Delaware, Florida, and California. Its mission is to utilize the gifts and talents of students to raise awareness of mental illness, suicide, and other issues facing youth. Aevidum inspires schools and communities to adopt cultures of care and advocacy, encouraging all members to have their friends backs.