WALL TOWNSHIP — Although it is difficult to envision a hopeful future after experiencing the tragic loss of a loved one, certain people, such as Wall resident Stephen Culley, are able to wield their grief into unwavering strength, using their personal experience as a platform to help others.
Such strength is exemplified by Mr. Culley, father of Sean Culley, who founded the CulleyStrong Foundation in 2019. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to honoring his son’s legacy, a former Wall High School athlete, “To allow Sean [Culley] to continue to help others through education, suicide prevention, mental health awareness, as well as supporting his passion for good sportsmanship, kind deeds and athletics.”
After Sean died by suicide in January 2019, Mr. Culley and his wife began to develop a peer-to-peer mental health support network promoting suicide prevention at local high schools.
One such initiative, which was started by the CulleyStrong foundation last September, is the “Hope Squad” – a peer-to-peer suicide-prevention program that is currently established in 43 states, now including New Jersey, and more than 1,600 schools.
The Hope Squad Program is a four-year curriculum that trains students to become aware of the warning signs of self-harm or suicidal thoughts in their peers and encourage them to reach out for help. Hope Squad members are nominated by their classmates as trustworthy peers and trained by advisors, with the end goal of reducing youth suicide through education, training and peer intervention.
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