With the amount of sharing on social media and the sort of things depicted in movies and books, suicide is no longer an unmentionable topic, a “taboo” subject. The factors that lead to thoughts of suicide and the thoughts themselves can happen to anyone.
The NHHS teachers had a professional development meeting on November 7th to update their knowledge on suicide preventions and protocols, but the students still have questions. For example, what are the factors that play into these actions and thoughts? What should someone do if they know someone who feels this way or if they themselves feel this way?
Of those surveyed, students report that 60% of them have had previous thoughts of suicide. According to responses, some students felt this way because of bullying, troubles at home, and even because of the loss of a loved one or friend. Of the students surveyed, 100% of them-- of our students-- have had a friend hint at wanting to self-harm or commit suicide. Furthermore, 50% of these students have had a family member hint at hurting themselves or committing suicide. And 80% of NHHS students surveyed have known someone who has committed suicide.
One of the most asked questions from NHHS students was, “What are some signs of depression that could lead to suicide?”
Ms. McCroskey answered, “We teachers learned that drastic changes in behavior is a big warning sign. If a typically cheerful person suddenly becomes withdrawn and quiet, it could indicate that there's something going on.”
Another pressing question asked was, “When someone implies that they are going to harm themselves what should I do and how do you know if they are being serious?”
Ms. McCroskey responded, “Communication is key. Always speak to a teacher or counsellor if you think someone is in danger. Knowing if threats are serious is the age-old problem though, and no one has the answer to that. I suppose you have to balance your knowledge of the person with the phrase ‘better safe than sorry’.”
On the topic of what the school can do, Ms. McCroskey informs that: “Communication lines are always open, and we have some counsellors and programs at the ready to step in if a student (or teacher) is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts. But we can't do anything if we don't see it or if no one speaks up... If we notice something out of the ordinary or a struggling student comes to talk to us, we will get ourselves in gear and set about getting that student the help he/she needs to start the coping process. We're always ready to help.”
The biggest and most asked question students have asked is, “Why don’t people say anything until it is too late?”
Ms. McCroskey said, “That's a tough one, and I can't imagine anyone really knows. I suppose fear is the biggest factor-- fear of the stigma, fear of being isolated or judged, fear that someone will try to ‘fix’ them.”
Although it is obvious that these are uncharted territories, our local high school is prepared to help the students-- and even faculty members-- in every way they possibly can.
Some more words of wisdom from Ms. McCroskey are: “Speak up! That's the first step to healing. No one but a professional is qualified to give advice about altering your mental health, so do what you can right now, which is speak up!”