PIQUA — As the Troy Trojans basketball team travels to Garbry Gym on Friday to do battle with Piqua’s Indians, the natural thought is a continuation of the rivalry between our two cities.
Students from both Piqua and Troy are taking the event to another level to raise awareness of a topic that is larger than any rivalry. One that, while difficult to talk about, has affected students in both communities.
Troy and Piqua High School students have joined forces with the Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services to raise awareness about suicide.
Piqua senior Liz Duer said that they met with Troy students and decided that the suicide awareness issue was important to make known. “It (suicide) goes on in people’s minds all the time, but people don’t know about.” said Duer, “We want to speak out to others and help them, and let them know that it’s okay and that there is help.”
“I think that part of it is that it is something that not everyone want to talk about all the time,” said Piqua Athletic Director Chip Hare.
Both schools are selling shirts and hope that Garbry Gym will be purple with unity in this joint venture on Friday.
Troy High School experienced the loss of a classmate and friend just last year. Troy High School Director of Athletics Dave Palmer said that members of the Tri-County Crisis Response Team met with the student’s cross-country teammates on Sunday evening to help them deal with the loss of their friend and teammate.
Brad Reed of the Tri-County Board said, “It is encouraging that young people from Piqua and Troy came together for this event.”
Reed said that schools are centers of all communities and that any sort of event or trauma that affects a school affects the entire community.
Hare described Friday’s event as “two communities coming together, putting the rivalry aside, for a common cause.”
This is the third year for the event. Year one, at Piqua, was a cancer awareness event. Last year, at Troy, the beneficiary was the Wounded Warrior Project. “When we took our students over to Troy, we wanted to find something different than what we had done the first two years,” said Hare.
Palmer emphasized that the event is student-driven. Students at both schools decided what direction the benefit would take.
Both Hare and Palmer said that the subject of suicide awareness was difficult, initially, for them to discuss. “It is one of those topics that people don’t really talk about,” said Palmer.
Both athletic directors pointed out that today’s generation of students seem to have little difficulty with the subject matter and were emphatic that suicide awareness needs to be addressed.
The lesson is still fresh in the minds of Troy students and Palmer said that he felt that Piqua’s representatives realized that “this could happen here too.”
Student government members from Troy and student representatives from Piqua also decided that they want the message to be a lasting one.
While past events have been geared more toward a fund-raising goal, this year’s suicide awareness topic is geared toward making students, as well as parents, aware that help is available for anyone having thoughts of harming themselves, and that they are not alone.
Donations toward the suicide awareness night will go to a family support group from the Tri-County Board and also a fund that will be make money available to all schools in the area to support suicide awareness programs.
Perhaps the most important message from the night will be shirts, rubber balls and cards, all bearing contact information for the Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services.
Reed said that today’s youth may be far more comfortable with texting and the Board has a text hotline. Simply text START to 741-741, the National Crisis Text Line. Or call the Tri-County Crisis Hotline at 1-800-351-7347. If harm is imminent, call 9-1-1.
Friday’s Piqua/Troy basketball game will be held in Garbry Gymnasium at Piqua High School. A half-time ball toss, similar to “chuck-a-puck” at hockey games, will be held as part of the fund-raising activities.
Hare said that another cancer awareness event is being planned for a Piqua home game later this basketball season. A date for that will be announced soon.
Reach Mike Ullery at (937) 451-3335