Were You Aware?

By: Claire Frank

Students displayed the word love upon their wrists on September 10th, proud to show their support for the organization To Write Love on Her Arms (a non-profit organization that helps those with suicidal thoughts and depression) on World Suicide Prevention Day. Yet very few went further and showed their support for something even larger—National Suicide Prevention Week.
National Suicide Prevention Week, which lasted from September 9th to September 15th, was started by the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) in 1974. It revolves around World Suicide Prevention Day and works towards raising awareness for suicide prevention.
 

To spread awareness, the AAS suggested making posters, wearing a turquoise and purple ribbon (the official ribbon of suicide awareness), and organizing events based on informing others; yet few students showed any support at all. Out of a poll of 100 students at Tuscarora High School, only 19% even knew about National Suicide Prevention Week, while 43% had heard of World Suicide Prevention day.

 

But why should this even be an important issue? If no one knows about it, it can’t be important, right? “I do not think that enough people are aware of the movement for awareness of suicide prevention,” says Mr. McNutt, a psychology teacher at Tuscarora. “I feel that having knowledge of suicide prevention could definitely lower the suicide rate.”

 

According to the AAS, there is an average of 34,000 suicides in the United States annually, and there are at least 25 attempted suicides for every actual suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death amongst young Americans between ages 15 and 24, behind homicide and automobile accidents, respectively.

 

“I think it’s important to do awareness weeks. I do think that’s important as a refresher for everybody, but I think it’s more important for people to be armed with knowledge,” says Ms. Daniel, a social worker at Tuscarora High School. “It’s important to know the signs and symptoms. It’s important to know what you are going to do if you start to feel [suicidal] or if you have a friend that tells you they’re feeling that way.”

 

So, what should someone do if they or someone they know is considering suicide? Get help.

 

“Tell a trust[ed] adult,” advises Ms. Burnett, a guidance counselor at Tuscarora. “Sometimes students are afraid to come forward because they’re afraid their friend will be upset with them, but they’re really doing the best thing in the world they can by coming in and telling [an adult].”