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Let’s Talk About Suicide

Mental Health at Rocklin High

Audrey Mayer

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In the past four years, four RHS students have taken their own lives. That is one life lost for each year that I have been attending Rocklin High. I don’t need to name names and talk about their struggles to convince everyone that we are in a mental health crisis, because we already know that.

In response to the recent death of senior, Christian Louis, I was compelled to write about how I feel we, as a school, can work together to try and prevent future losses. I am aware of how sensitive this topic is, which made me hesitant to write about the issue. However, I believe that our school could do much more to bring light to how severe this crisis really is.

According to NAMI, the National Alliance Against Mental Illness, “1 in 5 children ages 13-18 have, or will have a serious mental illness”. Furthermore, suicide is currently the third leading cause of death in teens and young adults.

It is evident, not just in our school but around the world, that we are in the midst of a mental health crisis. I have been disappointed in how our school has been handling Christian’s death. I am aware of how much pressure the administration is under for this tragedy. I know they are afraid of “copycat suicides” and legal issues. Trust me, I would not want to be in their position.

I know there was mention of Christian on the morning announcements the day after the incident and I noticed more suicide hotline posters, but this is not enough to cure our community of this epidemic.

If we want to prevent another suicide, our school culture needs change. No problem was ever resolved by pretending it did not happen, and we cannot pretend that this did not happen and is not happening. We need to open up the topic of mental health and suicide with the student body. Suicide is hard to talk about but not as hard as losing a student to the act.

By not addressing the incident, we are closing ourselves off to students who are struggling. This attitude makes them less likely to speak out and get help, because they feel no one is open to discussing the issue. Creating an open and accepting atmosphere will help us connect with students who are struggling. We must unite to fight this crisis, not hide the pain and controversiality.

I recognize that our school and community have become more aware of this mental health crisis, but awareness does not equal action. We need to take action as a school and community.

Through the past several years, I have seen change through attempts to coordinate test schedules, talk about mental health, and implement counseling services. However, after talking to several students it is apparent that they have ideas on how we can become more aware of the mental health crisis.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, “A person dies by suicide about every 16 minutes in the United States. An attempt is estimated to be made once every minute”. Senior, Taylor Hopkins, suggested that instead of “Every 15 Minutes” we should do “Every 16 Minutes”.

I know it is important to talk about the effects of drinking and driving, however talking about the effects of suicide in a similar event would have a greater impact. “Every 15 Minutes” relates more to the students who can drive, but mental health has no age limit. Furthermore, this would have greater effects around campus, because of recent events, just like “Every 15 Minutes” would have a greater impact if a student had recently died in a drunk driving accident.

Another suggestion made by senior, Baylee Chelossi, was to conduct a mental health survey around the school. Through this survey, we would be able to get an idea of how many students have struggled with any form or degree of anxiety and depression.

Although stress surveys have been conducted on campus, they do not provide the administration, staff, and students with raw information about mental illnesses and suicidal thoughts on our campus.

With a better knowledge of the well being of our student body, we would be able to take appropriate steps to work towards change.

In my opinion, I feel that an assembly should be held to discuss mental health and the effects of suicide. For legal reasons, I am aware that it would not be wise to bring attention to the students we have lost over the past four years. However, an assembly is necessary to open our campus to actively pursuing change.

While we cannot prevent a student from committing suicide, we can take steps to make the issue of suicide more transparent within our campus and make students feel comfortable to reach out. This requires the help from the students, staff, and community.

I am hopeful that change will allow us to make a difference in the lives of students suffering from mental illnesses. Pain is temporary, and if we can spread this message through RHS and our community, I am hopeful that we will begin to see the change that I, and many others, desire.


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