Counselors Present to Classes, Discuss Suicide Prevention in Step Toward Better Mental Health


Cartoon by Colleen Barrett

In the first quarter of the school year counselors visited freshmen, sophomore and junior classes to discuss suicide prevention. Counselors will visit senior classes in the spring.

Emily Nagy, Editor-in-Chief

Suicide and the tragedies that accompany poor mental health are inescapable in society. No community is immune to these adversities which have created an increased awareness and incentive to educate the public. MCPS and RHS counseling have taken a step in the right direction by promoting mental health with new mandatory suicide prevention presentations.

In the past 19 years there has been a 30 percent increase in deaths from suicide in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. The stigma and ignorance surrounding mental health conditions in the U.S. causes suicide rates to continually rise. It is especially important for schools to educate students on mental health because of the numbers of teens struggling with mental illnesses.

“Half of all chronic mental illness begin by age 14,” according to the CDC website .  “[Schools should] teach coping and problem-solving skills to help people manage challenges with their relationships, jobs, health, or other concerns.”

The suicide presentations given by RHS counselors aim to do just that by providing specialized activities geared to each individual grade level. Seniors will be presented information in the spring on what to expect when transitioning out of high school.

Another positive step in aiding those uneducated on or struggling with mental illnesses at RHS are the mental health wellness tips presented on the announcements. The morning show regularly shares a “Tip of the Day” that can help students improve their physical, social and psychological health.

Students have said they also found they are more comfortable going to their counselors with problems because of the increased awareness around school.

Although steps have been made in the right direction, there is still much to be done. Suicide prevention and mental health awareness must be tackled by an entire community and cannot be solely fixed with just one presentation or a few announcements.

It is important that teachers and counselors work to make mental health not only a priority in students’ lives but a constant topic of meaningful discussion. This can be done through required activities that prove to be therapeutic to high schoolers and improve their mental health. Mentally beneficial activities may include mindfulness or extended periods of creative opportunities such as music, gym and art. Some RHS teachers have already incorporated time for mindfulness once a week in class to aid mental health awareness. A healthy mental state for students directly correlates to their educational success so these activities could prove beneficial on multiple levels.

In addition to mental debriefing activities, the fight to destigmatize mental illness should continue to be prevalent in classroom discussions and reinforced with the actions of staff. Mental health should always be taken into account when work is being assigned and teachers should consider students’ mental states when creating a healthy classroom environment.

Counselors’ plan to continue suicide prevention presentations in years to come which will assist the promotion of mental health awareness. Additionally, counseling and MCPS need to maintain this renewed focus throughout the school year to actively aid mental health in schools.