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Potentially life-saving program making difference in Union County schools

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — A potentially life-saving program that’s working in local schools gives students a way to alert authorities about serious issues, like a weapon at school or someone having thoughts of suicide.

The “Say Something” system is making a real difference in Union County. It gives students a voice to express concern about scary and uncomfortable topics that may be hard to talk about.

Bullying, self-harm, suicidal ideation, depression and drug use are real issues facing our students, and they’re the top tips they’re reporting statewide through the anonymous system.

This week, Channel 9 got an update from state officials on where the “Say Something” program stands after launching in 2019.

Over 5,500 tips came in between November 2019 and April 2021. Some of those from Union County students.

“As the tips come in, there is a team responsible for looking at them, assessing them, then moving on with next steps to support the child,” said Tahira Stalbert with Union County Public Schools.

The tips are anonymous but Stalbert said they have led to potentially lifesaving action.

“We’ve had several stories of that nature where we were made aware of a situation where a student was thinking about harming themselves. They needed someone to talk to, they may have needed another layer of support, counseling or therapy, and we were able to provide that for them,” Stalbert said. “It is very big, and a lot of times, students are uncomfortable with sharing that and certain information, but they’ll submit a tip. And just to know that someone is responding to that tip and to know that there are adults that care, that’s a big deal.”

The use of the program is growing across the state. Now every district is using this -- some have opted out and have their own system in place.

(Watch Below: CMS ditches million-dollar school security upgrade, claims it didn’t work)

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