January 29, 2018
Every 15.2 minutes, someone commits suicide. That’s four people during the time of a class period here at East. Suicide is a scary topic, and one that people avoid. But staying uninformed cannot and will not help the problem. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, birth defects, aids, heart disease, influenza, stroke, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia combined.
“When talking about suicide, one can be straightforward,” according to Third Level Crisis Counselling. “Too often people avoid talking about suicide because it can be a scary subject. People fear death and worry if they ask their friends about suicide, it will be putting the idea in their head.”
But, in reality, talking about suicide and bringing the issue up in conversation can be a relief to people, the Counselling Center said. Having someone to share feeling and thoughts with can only be helpful.
The first place suicide should be addressed is within our school system. While we have programs that educate us about drugs, alcoholism, and bullying, students are not receiving lessons on mental health or suicide. Ninety percent of teens who commit suicide have a mental illness disorder such as depression or anxiety, so maybe if they were educated about mental illness from a young age, they would know resources to turn to and ways to get help.
“Students who are struggling with a mental health issue or thoughts of suicide will not be fully focused on learning and participation in school activities,” Third Level said. “For the school staff to address these issues would show that the students aren’t alone in what they are going through. Many people have depression and suicidal ideation even as teenagers,”
This would also help those who aren’t experiencing thoughts of suicide or mental illness to learn what it is like and be better prepared to help a struggling friend or classmate. This would also allow school staff members to show they are open and willing to provide help for these students.
If schools don’t know how to approach suicide, there is an annual training program called Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) that provides guest speakers and training all over the world.
“It is important that students know that Third Level is available to help someone who may be suicidal,” Amanda Elliot from Third Level said, “We can’t all be experts on suicide, and most of us will never be. Teachers may not be experts either. There are highly trained professionals, right here in our community, who are. Ask, listen, and seek help, together if necessary.”
Even if TCAPS isn’t following through, there are many resources for those struggling. In Traverse City, anyone with suicidal thoughts can contact Child and Family Services suicide helpline called Third Level. Third Level is open 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Anyone in crisis can call or walk in to Third Level 24/7. Their services are confidential and free. If someone is having thoughts of suicide, counsellors are available to talk about those thoughts and feelings, and what might be the cause. They work with the person on how to stay safe for now and find ways to manage the moment. They also can connect people with an on-going counselor to get them through hard times. The number for Third Level is 231-922-4800 and the Center is located at 3785 Veterans Drive.
Child and Family Services of Northwestern Michigan partners with the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. According to their website, someone suicidal will often exhibit one of the warning signs that follow the phrase, “IS PATH WARM.” “IS PATH WARM” stands for Ideation, Substance abuse, Purposelessness, Anxiety, Trapped, Hopelessness, Withdrawal, Anger, Recklessness, and Mood change.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please know that you are not alone and you can get help. It is worth it to get help. You are important. There are many other people dealing with the same things, and many experts who can help. You can, and will, push through this.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255