Schools deal with a host of mental health issues today. The typical pressures that accompany adolescence and the teen years are augmented by societal norms and social media. Students deal with such pressures in many and varied ways. Some are positive and result in personal growth. Unfortunately, some are also negative and result in self-harm.
Suicide is a very complex phenomenon. The emotional pain that people are suffering when they take their own lives cannot be explained by a singular event or reason. Instead, experts in the field know that suicide is often a result of many factors that the person is trying desperately to sort through and resolve without success. This inability to find a solution leads to heightened frustration. When one couples this frustration, sadness, and despair with a lack of coping skills, alternatives, and other reasons for living, a person might elect to take his/her own life.
Often people want to cite a reason for a suicide, one that they can understand, but the reality is that suicide is not understandable. It is often a mystery, leaving us sad and wondering what, if anything, we could have done to prevent it.
One of the best ways for a community to prevent suicide is to come together, learn more about the risk factors and warning signs, notice each other, and address the emotional health issues and pain that often settle in and turn to despair and suicidal thinking. We have to ask each other more questions, be open to someone saying they might be thinking of suicide, and educate ourselves on how to help (and how to get help for ourselves and others).
It is important that we acknowledge that we may not know what caused a suicide, and that thinking about it is painful. We should also be mindful of others in the community that might be hurting and at risk. Repetitive discussions about a death could cause those struggling to normalize the idea. Having a healthy narrative after a suicide, lifting each other up, and making each other feel important can go a long way in preventing more despair.
On February 13, 2020, West Geauga Local Schools will host Dr. Keith Kline, Executive Director of Grant Us Hope, an organization dedicated to teen suicide prevention in the Greater Cincinnati area. Our goal is to educate parents on the topic of teen suicide and to link them to resources that can offer assistance to families dealing with depression and related risks. The presentation will take place at 7:00 pm in the West Geauga Middle School gymnasium. Please regard this communication as your invitation to attend. However, due to the sensitive nature of the topic, we are limiting admission to parents. This presentation is not intended for students.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or thoughts of self-harm, we recommend that you utilized mental health resources and grief support to initiate and continue the healing process. It is okay not to be okay.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: www.afsp.org
Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation: www.ohiospf.org
National Suicide Prevention Resource Center: www.sprc.org
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: www.samhsa.gov
American Association of Suicidology: www.suicidology.org
National Center for the Prevention of Youth Suicide: https://www.preventyouthsuicide.org/
As a school community, we need to support the mental health of all of our students. The meeting on February 13 is but one step in that journey. Thank you for your continued support of our schools.