Lee’s Summit North rallies around suicide prevention effort after losing student

The student section at Lee’s Summit North High School’s stadium took on a purple tinge Saturday, which seemed odd considering that’s also the main color of the Blue Springs team on the other side of the field.

Purple is also a color that symbolizes suicide prevention.

The day before, that issue became all too real for Lee’s Summit North’s students and staff when Gemesha Thomas, a 17-year-old senior, shot herself in the school and later died at a Lee’s Summit hospital.

The football game was supposed to be played Friday night but was postponed until Saturday afternoon. Many other activities scheduled for the weekend were canceled, but Lee’s Summit North athletic director Mike McGurk felt it wise to move the football game back a day.

Giving the kids a chance to gather in an out-of-classroom event, he said, could help with the healing process.

“Their first thing back isn’t jumping back to school, it’s like coming to an event where it’s pretty enthusiastic,” McGurk said. “And they’re pretty resilient.”

McGurk said the North students took it upon themselves to help bring awareness to suicide prevention. Besides dressing in purple, students also released purple balloons at kickoff and observed a moment of silence with other fans before the game.

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