Alliance High School's tenth Suicide Prevention Week began on Monday, Sept. 9 and will continue through the end of the school week. This is especially important since a recent study shows suicides in Ohio increased by 24 percent since 2008.
To honor Suicide Prevention Week, students were asked to perform a simple challenge every day. For instance, Tuesday’s challenge was to learn someone’s name and then use it.
Each day during Suicide Prevention Week, students will watch videos about mental health and suicide prevention.
One video talked about myth vs. fact. A common myth is that suicide only affects individuals with a mental health condition. The fact is that many individuals with mental health issues are not affected by suicidal thoughts.
“Debunking these common myths about suicide all week hopefully will allow individuals to look at suicide from a different angle - one of understanding and compassion for an individual who is internally struggling,” stated a video created by Media Arts students who used material from school counselor Allison Morrison.
Each video emphasizes the crisis text hotline that provides free, 24/7, emotional support and information for young people having any kind of emotional crisis. The hotline is also available in a medium that young people know and trust: text messaging.
Stark County youth can text 4hope to 741-741 from anywhere, anytime. A trained specialist receives the text and responds quickly. The specialist helps the youth stay safe and healthy with effective, secure counseling and referrals through the Crisis Text Line platform.
“As a counselor, the first and primary goal is to make the students feel valued and loved,” Morrison said. “We would like to give them an environment and a culture in which they feel they can come and talk to us.”
Suicide is the second most common cause of death among youth and young adults ages 12 to 24, second only to accidental death. For every suicide, there are between 100 and 200 suicide attempts.
A study released by Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health found that suicides increased by 24 percent in the state between 2008 and 2017. There was a tremendous increase in the number of suicides for both the young and old.
Of the suicides in those years, 161 occurred among youth 14 years old or younger. In that age group, suicides increased 80 percent. For those ages 20 to 29, the increase was 36 percent.
Suicides also increased by 57 percent in Ohioans over the age of 60.
According to recent studies, suicide rates were highest among Caucasians - 14.6 percent - followed by African Americans at 7.4 percent and other minorities at 4.9 percent.
Morrison said the goal of the high school’s counseling staff was to reach as many people as possible and to make students feel like they can come to a counselor to seek help - not just for themselves but for others, too. Morrison explains this by stating.
“We would like to reach as many people as possible and help as many students as we can with their struggles.”