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Erika’s Lighthouse brings depression out of the dark

To raise awareness about the effects of depression, members of Erika's Lighthouse passed out purple and blue ribbons to students before school on Wednesday.

Rebecca Rusiecki

To raise awareness about the effects of depression, members of Erika's Lighthouse passed out purple and blue ribbons to students before school on Wednesday.

Rebecca Rusiecki, News Editor

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This year, RB students hope to raise awareness about depression through a group called Erika’s Lighthouse. The group is part of a larger group founded by New Trier High School after the death of a student. RB will become one of about seven high schools that have joined this group.

The main focus of Erika’s Lighthouse is not only to raise awareness about depression, but also to break down many of the negative stigmas associated with it. It also aims to help people recognize warning signs of depression and find a place to go for help and support.

“[Depression] impacts everybody. And everybody knows someone who suffers from depression, either a family member, or a close friend, or they themselves may be battling depression. So a lot of what we do is aimed at breaking down the stereotypes associated with depression,” said Christine Sutton, RB’s social worker who is sponsoring Erika’s Lighthouse.

The group got its start at RB during 2011-2012, after a group of students decided they would like to do more to assist students facing depression after hearing about Erika’s Lighthouse at other high schools.

“The kids who are on this panel have not been diagnosed with depression. They’re just kids who believe in bringing education and good mental health to their classmates,” said Sutton.

Erika’s Lighthouse planned numerous ways to raise awareness during National Depression and Suicide Prevention Week (September 9-15). Students made posters to display around the school and made daily announcements to educate students about depression. On Wednesday, they passed out purple and blue ribbons for students to wear to show their support. They also sponsored a raffle and gave students and staff the chance to sign a pledge to spread depression awareness on Friday.

The group also hopes to give presentations in RB’s health classes later in the year. In addition, they plan to go to RB’s feeder schools to inform students about the effects of depression. Students in the group are also planning to sponsor the turnabout dance this spring, though they are still working out the details.

Though Erika’s Lighthouse is not an official club at RB, it encourages all students to get involved.  The group currently has about twenty members and always welcomes others who would like to join. Students can join by attending any of the Erika’s Lighthouse meetings. They can also join the group through Facebook or speak to one of the student leaders.

“We always look for more people to join our student panel,” said Sutton.

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Free of Bull, Full of Bulldogs
Erika’s Lighthouse brings depression out of the dark