It was just a few days into the new school year when Kwadwo Boateng, a sophmore at Ohio's Mason High School, took his own life. His death came as a shock to those who knew and loved him. To honor their classmate's memory — and reach out to other students who might be struggling — five students from MHS took it upon themselves reach out to their classmates, all 3,600 of them, with notes of encouragement, support and kindness.
MHS sophomore Michelle Crispin described 15-year-old Boateng as positive and outgoing. “He always wanted to make people laugh; he always wanted to talk to everyone, no matter who it was," remembered Crispin. That's what made Crispin and four of her friends decide to reach out to others, because they felt that's exactly what Boateng would have done and would have wanted them to do.
Crispin, along with classmates Erica English, Anna Aronson, Ellie Uematsu and Jessica Morse, spent eight hours on a recent Tuesday evening writing supportive messages on thousands of Post-It notes. They attached one note to the locker of every student at their school as well as on the desks of teachers and the school's administrative staff. Those notes, which told fellow students “You are loved," "You are unbreakable" and “You are strong," surprised students and school officials as they hit their lockers on Wednesday morning.
Principal Dave Hyatt told ABC News that the girls' gesture brought "smiles and tears" to the students and staff the next morning. "It literally lightened the entire building's heart," Hyatt noted. "It felt like this huge weight had just been lifted."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,17 percent of teens in grades 9-12 reported seriously considering suicide over the previous 12-month period, while 8 percent had attempted suicide at least once in the previous year. Boateng's death was the second suicide by an MHS student in the last year.
Nothing can bring these two young lives back, but gestures like this one by caring young students may help prevent another tragedy in the future.