Wawasee Community School Corporation is taking steps to be proactive in trying to avoid anymore tragedy. On Tuesday evening, Wawasee High School hosted a suicide prevention session for the community.
On Saturday, a WHS freshman was laid to rest after tragically taking her own life last week. During the evening’s program, WCSC Superintendent Dr. Tom Edington addressed the program presenter, Christina Bolden from the Bowen Center, noting, “We’ve had one (suicide), a couple of attempts and a couple serious threats in the last week that we’ve had to have authorities involved with. What can we do as a school to address this?”
Approximately 30 people attended the program, which provided information to parents on suicide warning signs, coping strategies for teens, and understanding what drives anyone to feel they have no way out of their pain. It was an effort on the school’s part to bring awareness to a very real problem.
“This school has been largely impacted by the suicide last week. I’ve seen lots of children over the course of the past week who had depressive symptoms and have been struggling with how to cope with and manage all these feelings they are having about losing a friend,” said Bolden. “That is why we’re here tonight.”
Bolden began by saying, “There are a lot of misconceptions about suicide. It’s not really about understanding why, it’s more about understanding that at that time, at that moment, that person was feeling very overwhelmed like they had no other choice, like they had no other way to go on.”
According to Bolden, a suicide occurs about every 16 minutes and clues are almost always given by the person. But she added, “Most people are very ambivalent about doing it until the last second … a lot of times it’s a very impulsive decision that happens in a moment of extreme pain.”
Those present were told of the warning signs, which can include a person’s threat to cause himself or herself harm, talking or writing about dying, expressing feelings of hopelessness, dramatic mood changes, changes in sleep patterns, withdrawing from friends and even acting reckless.
Among the suicide facts Bolden presented was that 90 percent of adolescent suicide attempts involve alcohol at the time of the attempt. “Also, 90 percent of youth who attempt suicide first tell friends about their intent, almost none tell parents or teachers.” She stressed the importance of students being more involved in talking to adults if they ever hear another student talk about harming either themselves or someone else.
After the presentation, which was strictly an informational presentation, school board member Becky Linnemeier said, “We (as a school) are looking at how to better educate our students in how they can be helpful to someone else. The school needs to get the message out stronger that students need to tell if they hear something that could save a life.”
Bolden ended the evening noting that parents and even school staff can play an active role in student’s mental health by staying involved, note who students hang out with and if their behavior changes and, especially in this sad time, to make sure the students aren’t focused solely on the loss. “Make sure they are laughing, make sure they are having fun,” she added.
Printable copies of the information handed out at the informational session are available HERE.
In crisis situations, the Bowen Center offers an emergency call number: 1-800-342-5653. The Suicide Prevention Hotline is also available at any time by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).