Jason’s Story & The Jason Foundation, Inc.

On July 16, 1997, the most devastating event that can happen to a parent / family happened to my family…the loss of a child. Jason, age 16, was an average teenager who was an average student, better than average athlete, active in his church youth group and one who seemed to have everything good ahead of him. Yet on this day, Jason was lost to a “Silent Epidemic” that today is the 2ndleading cause of death for our nation’s youth. It is a “Silent Epidemic” that claims an average an average of 118 young lives each week in our nation. This “Silent Epidemic” is youth suicide.

According to the CDC’s 2017 Youth Risk Behavioral Survey, 17.2% of our nation’s youth replied that they had “seriously considered” suicide in the past twelve month and that 7.4% – that is over 1 out of every 14 young people – reported having attempted suicide one or more times in that same previous twelve months.

Suicide can easily be listed as one of the leading causes of death for our nation’s youth. However, it can also be listed as one of the leading causes of preventable death. Four out of five young people will demonstrate “warning signs” before a suicide attempt. If we know what to look for and how to appropriately respond, we can save lives!

The Jason Foundation, Inc. (JFI) was founded in October 1997 by Jason’s family and a few close friends. Today, JFI is recognized as a non-profit national leader in the awareness and prevention of youth suicide. Providing the information, tools and resources to help young people, educators / youth workers and parents / communities be better able to identify and assist young people who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide is the mission of The Jason Foundation. JFI, whose corporate headquarters is in Hendersonville, TN, has grown from literally a kitchen table to a national network of 125 Affiliate Offices located in 33 states and one U.S. Territory.

One of the greatest accomplishments of JFI is The Jason Flatt Act which utilizes teacher In-Service / Professional Development training to include suicide awareness and prevention. Passed first in Tennessee in 2007, The Jason Flatt Act as been passed in twenty states which impacts over 1.3 million educators and 23 million students.

When asked about JFI’s greatest accomplishments, Clark Flatt President of JFI and Jason’s dad responded, “Since 1997, because of the support of our National Affiliates and many passionate individuals, we have never charged for any of our programs making sure that lack of funding is never the deciding factor on who we can help.”

To learn more about the National public help issue of youth suicide and The Jason Foundation, Inc., visit www.jasonfoundation.com


Guest Author:
Clark Flatt, President of The Jason Foundation Inc.

Editor’s Note:
This blog contains views, and positions of the author, and does not represent Safe and Sound Schools. Information provided in this blog is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Safe and Sound Schools accepts no liability for any omissions, errors, or representations. The copyright to this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them

Lisa Hamp is a survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting that took place on April 16, 2007. Today, Lisa speaks and writes about her experience surviving and recovering from the Virginia Tech shooting to help others.

I remember as a kid when I used to get excited for a new school year. I would look forward to back-to-school shopping, new clothes, and new school supplies. I would look forward to finding out my class schedule, and which friends I was going to have class with.

My heart aches for the students who aren’t going to have that this year. My heart aches for the students who have survived a school tragedy and don’t want to return to school. My heart aches for those who have witnessed school violence and are experiencing high anxiety as they are fearful to return to school this year.

I grew up in middle-to-upper class suburbia. Helicopter parents, and chain restaurants. Kids wearing Abercrombie and moms driving minivans. I felt safe all the time. But on April16, 2007, that sense of safety was stripped from me. I was sitting in class at Virginia Tech when I heard an unfamiliar popping sound. It sounded like gunfire. During the next eleven minutes, my classmates and I laid on the floor pushing the desks and chairs against the door while the gunman shot at our door and tried to push it open. In those terrible minutes, the gunman killed 30 students and professors in the building, and wounded and traumatized many more.

My recovery journey was far from perfect, but I eventually found my way through the fog. When I reflect on recovery, I realize I learned a lot about counseling, boundaries, confidence, self-care, and feelings. This stuff isn’t taught in school. You learn it by observing those around you.

For those of you who have survived a school shooting or witnessed school violence, I want to share with you what I learned as you return to the school this year.

First, going back to school was harder than I expected. I had a tremendous fear of a shooting happening again. Many people would tell me that it wouldn’t happen again, but I thought to myself, “they don’t know that.” I finally had to accept that there is no guarantee it won’t happen again.

Second, I learned to feel the uncomfortable feelings. I felt survivor’s guilt, fear, anxiety, loneliness, helplessness and self-doubt. I learned that these feelings were telling me something. They were telling me that I didn’t feel safe. Even though I hadn’t been shot, I had been hurt. As time passed, I was able to rebuild that sense of safety, and acknowledge my own wounds.

Third, I found good listeners. My recovery made great strides when I began connecting with others affected by school tragedy. These people helped me feel less lonely. We bonded. We connected on a level deeper than I connected with some of my closest family and friends.

If you have suffered a traumatic experience in school, getting back in the classroom may be one of the biggest challenges in your life. So here’s my advice: Trust your gut. Listen to your feelings. Write in a journal. Talk to your friends. Hug your friends. Trust yourself. Resist the urge to compare yourself to others. Ask to step out of class when it feels uncomfortable. You got this! And remember, you are not alone.


Lisa Hamp, is a survivor, a wife and mother, and national level speaker with Safe and Sound Schools. Learn more about her experiences and work with Safe and Sound Schools at http://www.kirklandproductions.com/lisa-hamp.html.

By: John McDonald, Executive Director for Security and Emergency Management, Jefferson County Public Schools, Colorado

Now that school is underway and teachers, students, and staff are settling into their new routines, educators have a responsibility to foster a proactive healthy awareness of school safety. From my years working in security and emergency management, particularly my years in the Jefferson County school district in Colorado, I have developed a quick back-to-school safety checklist. These are the first-five items we tackle at the beginning of every school year.

I hope they are helpful to you, as teachers, staff, and administrators, in setting the tone for the new year. And if any parents or students are reading this, I encourage you to share it with your school. I wish you all a productive, smart, fun, and safe school year.

As soon as you can (as close to the first day as you can make it), every student needs to be taught what your emergency protocols are in the school. What is lockdown? Where is the evacuation area? What is expected? And if you are in a school where students change classes, you should review exits and protocols in every class as circumstances may change depending on the physical layout.

Reconnect with your Police and Fire Department to talk strategy and expectations during emergencies. While you are at it, find a time for your local emergency management personnel to talk to the rest of the school and parent community, too.

Challenge students to find one act of random kindness they can do. When you see something positive, find a way to reward them or lift their actions up. This sets the tone for a supportive and inclusive environment, which not only promotes learning, it makes our schools safer, too.

Double check that every classroom is clearly numbered on the inside and outside. If you know where you, then first responders will more easily know how to get to you. Make sure you have a “go” bag of supplies in case you need to evacuate quickly. It’s also a good idea to restock some supplies in the unlikely event you need to shelter in place.

Schedule – and then conduct – a lockdown drill in the first month of the school year. Take your time and do it right. Stop timing the drill. Use the time to train for success and survival. This is about your life and the life of students and staff. Make it count.

Hear more from John about his experiences in this video interview.