Nearly 18 percent of elementary through high school students across the country say they’ve considered suicide, according to the Help Network. In light of the CDC’s investigation into Stark County’s 12 suicides of young people in the past seven months, West Branch School District wanted to reach out to its own community.
Last year, the district tried to hold the same suicide awareness program that it held Thursday, but hardly anyone showed up. Thursday night, it had a church filled with people.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10 to 24 nationwide. West Branch Schools and DFC Celebrate Recovery want to change that.
“You don’t have to be afraid to discuss suicide with young people or people of any ages,” said Cathy Grizinski, with the Help Network.
A hundred or so people turned out for their suicide awareness night, with Grizinski providing the statistics and a panel of school counselors talking about what they see every day.
“They don’t even know how to address their feelings sometimes,” said Amanda Davis, an elementary school counselor. “They don’t even know feelings at this point in their younger years. They’re feeling sad, they’re feeling down.”
“You have to have a connection with somebody so that the topic can be discussed — and discussed deeply — so some true feelings can come out,” said Ken Harris, a high school counselor.
Grizinski said too often, we’re afraid to talk about suicide. She thinks that’s why some people who commit it feel they have nowhere else to turn.
“You don’t have to be a professional to do it. You can be just a caring individual who is there when that person needs you the most,” she said.