Awareness of our dying youth


Suicide is the second leading cause of death in today’s youth. In 2020 alone, 2,817 kids committed suicide (5-19.) On college campuses, nearly 1,100 students end their lives yearly. Our generation is in danger of many things, but mental illness is at the top of the list. Should we sit back and stay quiet about suicide awareness, or should we speak up? It can also be a touchy issue for some, so schools may even be overly cautious about the matter.

Shonta Watts, a counselor at Edmond North High School, delves deeply into the impact of suicide awareness.

“Awareness is the key to keeping all stakeholders aware of the signs of suicide,” Watts said.

Watts’ input brings up some insightful topics; one of the which is the critical need to recognize the fundamental signs of suicidal ideation. Inside the Signs of Suicide (SOS) presentation exemplified to the first-year student body by OK History and Health teachers, they display the symptoms of suicidal ideation with the help of a present counselor. To get further insight into the SOS presentation, Tara Chase, a freshman counselor at Edmond North comments on it.

“SOS provides scenarios on how suicide ideation may appear. It also allows students to walk through scenarios, and we talk with them about finding a trusted adult and reporting their concerns.” Chase said.

When I spoke to Mrs. Peeler, the principal at Edmond North, about why Oklahoma History and Health Classes presented the SOS presentation, she explained how and why the school did it that way.

We want our tier-one intervention support to be our teachers.  Students have a better rapport with their teachers and feel comfortable sharing their concerns/feelings.  We also have a counselor in the classroom to provide additional support for those who need it,” Peeler said.

SOS education is crucial inside a school because talking about suicide awareness has been proven to be a practical and valuable method of suicide prevention. Suicide prevention programs are effective and have caused a “significant decline in suicide rates” over the years. Research demonstrates that learning the signs of suicide has and will reduce the rate of suicide; therefore, continuing to teach the signs of suicide at school would be advantageous to the students and teachers.

Edmond Public Schools have partnered with North Care at a district level. North Care provides various services for all ages to help recover from mental illness, substance abuse, trauma, or any life crisis. This partnership has included three personnel who are ready at all times. Students can also get three free sessions with the psychotherapist, who is ready at all schools unless occupied by another student. Students can get more information about these available sessions through their assigned school counselor.

There is a massive stigma behind suicide awareness; What could happen if schools don’t talk about it? One of the outcomes is an ever-growing suicide rate in the student population. What could the school do to improve the vocalization of suicide awareness? The most promising way to make suicide awareness a comfortable topic is to bring it up more; SOS does that job outstandingly, but doing it more widely throughout the year is best for vocalization. If Suicide Awareness Week is implemented in the following year, it would be offset from SOS to allow for support year-round instead of grouping all of it into one month. When asked whether it would be possible, Principal Peeler responded with the following:

“That is something we need to look into and be more strategic and implement earlier in July, August, and September of next year and figure out some resources we could really bring forth for our students,” Peeler said.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about this article, please email Forrest Abrahamson at [email protected]