Love Like Lexi coming to Butler Schools
Published 4:28 pm Sunday, August 20, 2023
Editor’s note: This article discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, don’t hesitate to contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Andrea Mills, founder of the Love Like Lexi Project, developed the program after her daughter, Lexi Webb, lost the battle to choose life and ended her own life Feb. 6, 2019. Today, Mills takes the program into schools, church youth groups, and anywhere she can deliver a message of hope to teens and help them commit to choose life.
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Butler County Schools Federal Programs Coordinator Lisa Adair said the program was needed for area teens and worked with Mills and school system administrators to bring the project to the county’s schools. Teachers and counselors have already received training, Adair said, and a series of parent and student assemblies will start at Greenville High School and continue through to Greenville Middle School on Aug. 31-Sept. 1, McKenzie School on Sept. 13-14, and Georgiana School Sept. 5-6.
“As connected as kids are through social media, I believe they are all alone and that their feelings and struggles are individual to them,” Adair said. “Sometimes they feel alienated. They don’t understand that other people struggle in the same ways. The program is about helping kids put language to what they’re struggling with and help them learn to self-advocate and to advocate for others.”
The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 804 suicide deaths in Alabama in 2021. Among those were 104 youth and young adults aged 10-24 who died by suicide. The Centers for Disease Control attributed nationwide 48,183 deaths to suicide in 2021. The agency reports that the number of people who think about or attempt suicide is even higher.
Among people ages 10-14 and 20-34, suicide is the second leading cause of death across America.
As a registered clinical nurse and mother, Mills wanted to understand why her daughter, a seemingly happy, active young woman, viewed suicide as her best and only option.
“I wanted to know why it happened, and I wanted to know what she needed in that moment that she did not have – like what could have saved her or helped her make a different decision?”
Mills went live with the project in January 2021 in a school at Smith’s Station. This is the effort’s third school year and more than 25,000 students have made the commitment to choose life because of Mill’s message.
On Aug. 23-24, Greenville High School will host parent and student will assemblies. Parent assemblies will focus on helping families understand that there is no one type of child who grapples with thoughts of suicide.
Student assemblies are aimed at removing the stigma around and opening doors to conversations that guide teens considering suicide toward the decision to choose life.
After assemblies, students will complete a workbook in the classroom to solidify their understanding that they can overcome life’s challenges and that there are resources available to help. Counselors from all four Butler County Schools and a representative from Fort Dale Academy, which completed the program in May, will be on and at each event to talk with students who wish to discuss the topic.
Adair explained that the project gives youth the chance to speak out and to connect with a support system to help them with suicidal thoughts.
“This project gives our students an opportunity to connect on what they are feeling and be able to not only recognize they are not alone, but to connect and build resilience in themselves and in others. They can understand that whatever is going on, this too shall pass.”
Butler County schools have measures already in place to catch warning signs when a youth is considering suicide.
“We can step in and make sure we are wrapping services of help around that child,” Adair said. “We are aware that nationally suicide awareness is needed when it is the second leading cause of death among adolescents.”
Heflin Baptist Church leaders heard about the program and invited Mills to speak before its youth group. Mills and her team presented the program to teens there and all of them signed a commitment to choose life. Six of those made decisions to surrender their lives to a relationship with Christ.
For more information, visit lovelikelexi.com.