KIMBALL, Neb. (KNEP) — One school in Nebraska has a new method to bringing awareness to impaired driving, teen suicide and bullying.
The Kimball Prevention Coalition and Kimball Health Services teamed up to create the Grim Reaper Project.
Students were “reaped” every 18 minutes at Kimball High School in Kimball, Neb., representing the fact that every 18 minutes a teenager dies. They wore white face paint, a white t-shirt, sunglasses and a sign of their cause of death. The students weren’t allowed to interact with anyone for the rest of the day.
“I feel like a lot of them were shocked because they didn’t think it would happen to them and that kind of relates to actually what it is. They didn’t think they’d ever get into a car accident, but it happens,” said Madison Winne, a junior at Kimball High School.
“It felt so real. They can’t look at you, they can’t talk to you, but you still feel their presence as if they actually did die,” said Alandalynn Prather, another junior.
“When the reaper came in, it was really scary and just kind of creeped me out. It’s not real, but it’s a real issue,” said Crystal Pile, a senior.
“The reaper picked out the kids and brought them to the door and then I read the scene about how the students would lost their lives and it was very quiet,” said Jamie Soper, Special Services Director for Kimball Public Schools.
The leading cause of death from teenagers is automobile crashes and the third leading cause of death from teenagers is suicide. One in 100,000 children between the ages of 10 and 14 die from suicide each year, and half of those cases are from bullying.
“My freshman year, I went through bullying. I was one of those kids who wanted to commit suicide. Thankfully I didn’t, but I know how it feels and I’m glad I’m out of that rut now,” added Prather.
“I’ve actually personally had students come up to me and say, ‘We’re being bullied, or ‘This person told me to kill myself,’ and we’re like, we need to do something about this. We need to make it known to faculty, staff and all the other students that this is actually a problem,” added Winne.
In 2016, students of Kimball Public Schools took a survey. The survey revealed that 73 percent of the eighth grade felt bullied and that 23 percent considered suicide. In the 10th grade, 72 percent said they were bullied and 31 percent considered suicide.
“I’ve seen anywhere from, ‘I need to tell you my story,’ to sadness because they’ve gone through it, to madness as well because people are not taking it serious in this school,” added Soper.
“A lot of my friends and other people’s friends that are really close with them, I’ve actually seen a lot of people crying. I’ve also had a lot of people talk to me and other students about their personal experiences with friends, family and unknown people that they’ve seen commit suicide,” added Winne.
“Don’t put people down just to make sure that you’re happy and you think it’s funny. It’s not funny because the next day you’ll wake up and someone will be dead,” added Prather.
Last year, the Kimball Prevention Coalition staged a mock driving impaired accident relating to drugs and alcohol. This year, Winne says they wanted to focus on suicide and bullying.