Suicide Prevention is a Priority

According to, over 60 percent of teenagers who have depression are not treated. Thus, leaving it to the schools to bring awareness to the effects of mental health.


by Aspen Cherrito, Multimedia Editor

Every day, approximately 123 Americans die by suicide, amounting to 44,965 each year, according to This statistic proves why schools need to began to bring awareness to suicide.

Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day was Sept. 10. Our school has done more than various public schools across the nation who are too afraid to even mention suicide, yet there is always more we can do.

Studies, such as one from the National Institute of Mental Health, show that talking about suicide actually decreases the chances of it.

Out of the STA community, an estimate of 65 students and faculty attended the optional speaker for suicide prevention, according to STA counselor Amanda Whitcomb. Personally, I believe that an assembly over suicide is one that all students should attend even though it may be uncomfortable. Last year sexual assault survivor Chessy Prout came to speak to our school. Her talk was extremely inspirational, however, I feel as if sexual assault resonates with some people, the same way suicide does, yet all students were all required to go, while less than one-fourth of the student body attended the speaker for suicide prevention.

Our community isn’t the only one who hasn’t fully stepped up their game of speaking about suicide prevention. Schools across the nation have a stigma around mental health showcased by their lack of talking about mental health in the classroom, however, the stigma is slowly going away, it’s still there. Which I understand, mental health, especially suicide, is uncomfortable, but these issues are so prevalent in our society, we can’t just sweep it aside.

According to, Blue Valley School district has begun to implement a two-phase program to get rid of the stigma around mental health. In Phase 1, the school focuses on curriculum while phase 2 is various additional programs ranging from signs to look out for and what to do in a time of need. I believe that Blue Valley school district is doing what all school districts around the metro should be doing. If we, the STA community, don’t speak about it, kids will not know how to help themselves or each other.

Knowing someone cares and that someone thinks you’re good enough is all teenagers could ask for. Speakers, counselors, group therapy, classes, clubs, events are all things schools could do to began to get rid of that stigma, which STA does have. However, it’s the student’s role to self-advocate and take advantage of such resources.

STA has implemented suicide prevention into star seminar for freshmen and their health and wellness class, but the school should take the extra step to educate all students. Implementing a mandatory assembly once every semester where students are educated on the signs and how to reach out for help may help be proven to be vital. Sending out an email every semester letting students know the signs starting an ongoing conversation keeping students refreshed on the topic. Moving away from the stigma could save lives and make students feel safe at home and at school, like they have someone to talk to. We have to learn to be there for one another even when we may be scared.

In teacher Brittni Darras’ Ted Talk regarding suicide in the classroom, she spoke about a student who took their own life. Because of this, she realized that the kids who may seem the kindest and happiest are the ones who may have those thoughts. After another one of her students ended up in the mental hospital, she began to write her students letters, detailing a trait she loves about them.

Darras wanted to make sure her students knew they were loved — that they weren’t failures for a bad grade they may have gotten on an exam, that someone would miss them if they were gone, that they mattered. I see this occasionally at STA, yet I feel as if students may be scared to speak to their teacher about personal matters. Creating a strong teacher-student relationship will encourage students to feel safer at school.

So I invite you to step up, educate others, notice the little things and check up on each other. It is as simple as posting an Instagram post, starting a bake sale or opening up an ongoing conversation among peers. Various charities and groups are working to alleviate the stigma around mental health from Not Alone KC to Spread Hope KC. Both have various events across the metro each month. The stigma around mental health can be toxic, and we, as a community, are the ones who have to change it.