Suicide awareness needs to be more approachable to students


Dalton Roberts, Journalist

Students are struggling with mental health now more than ever. Because of this, the school has stepped up the activities during suicide prevention week, but students still feel that it’s forced and done without.

“I think the school failed suicide awareness,” senior Daniel Palacio said. He is referring to the fact that since his freshmen year we have lost people to suicide. This is the first year that some students feel that there was a legitimate effort by schools and staff. 

The school didn’t make it apparent that they were doing suicide prevention week especially after it was a few weeks late. The official suicide Prevention Week was September 4-10. The school recognized it on September 26-30. 

“I didn’t know that it was suicide prevention week until the last day when they stood next to the door handing out stickers and cupcakes,” Palacio said. The school didn’t make it apparent to students when they started, so some thought it was only done for one day. This is a problem because students that didn’t know felt that there was a lack of effort put in by the administrators.

When I asked the administration, I was told that the delay was due to Homecoming week which was September 19-23. They could have done it from September 4-10, but for unknown reasons they waited. This could have been viewed by students as The school not being prepared or it could be viewed as bad as they will feel that a dance and a football game are more important. 

The best thing that happened was that students helped develop ideas, put in input, and participated in helping teachers with suicide week. This was a big deal since it didn’t happen in years prior. It’s also a change towards students discussing what should happen during suicide prevention week. 

The reason this is the best thing is that when the student body gets involved with something as big as suicide prevention week, students have a say and the administrators know how the students feel about an activity before it happens.

The Olathe Schools also had an Advisory lesson on November 7 regarding suicide awareness. During this lesson, there was a PowerPoint and a Ted Talk, after which there was a depression screener that students filled out to could tell them if they have depression. The problem with the screener was that as a student, it was easy to feel like many of the questions were about school.

It also didn’t help if the teacher of the advisory class just went through a script they were forced to read, and it made them sound like a robot. It makes teachers seem disinterested, and sometimes they might be, but it makes the student think the school cares even less about suicide prevention. 

In addition, the name for the depression screener, Brief Screen for Adolescent Depression, was abbreviated on the paper as “BSAD.” It doesn’t matter if it was with ill intent or not because when you give this to students during a forced lesson, it makes them feel that the school is not taking depression and suicide seriously.

Form students got on November 7. The form is from Columbus Academy

I’ve also noticed that students will start a conversation in class about a serious topic and it shows we can talk about anything, but we don’t want to when we don’t feel comfortable or trust the people we talk to. This is why a fixed lesson plan will never be supported by the students.

This school has had some bad suicide prevention talks and ideas in the past, but we are moving in a direction that’s better than in the past. While what the school is doing isn’t perfect, it’s better than doing the bare minimum.

Districts and individual schools need to make suicide awareness a more approachable topic. You can’t make kids talk about it through a fixed lesson plan with a teacher kids don’t fully trust. Have more student involvement so students have a say in what happens.