Written by: Sofia
Edited by: Erich
Visual by: Zoe
Content Warning: suicide, mental health
Every year, from the week of September 4th onwards, ISM commemorates Suicide Prevention Week, which is in culmination of Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th. The aim of Suicide Prevention Week is to spark more conversations about a rather sensitive topic: educating individuals on how to recognize the warning signs that someone may commit suicide and how to respond to such signs.
ISM certainly prioritizes that members of the Bearcat community have someone to reach out to for mental health challenges. Freshman and sophomore counselors, Ms. Berry and Mr. Paulson, recently conducted mental health meetings amongst advisory groups, even offering solutions to the challenges that their fellow students might be facing. “This week, we have to schedule students to be removed from a class and to me, that’s significant and it highlights how serious and how much value the high school administration places on well-being,” remarked Mr. Paulson. He also added, “there will be forthcoming activities with the grades 11 and 12 to raise awareness.” In addition to these meetings, the Mental Health Awareness Club also had a bake and sticker sale on September 8th to raise awareness for this once-a-year campaign. With every purchase a student makes, they get a free sticker with it that has a mental health related design.
Regarding how ISM promotes good mental health, Alexa (12), the president of the Mental Health Awareness Club, shares that “we really hope that by kicking off the school year with suicide prevention week, we can encourage openness and inclusion throughout. ISM has done a great job supporting us in these projects, although there is always room for improvement! There were definitely some initiatives during the pandemic like wellness check forms, and tutorial rotations that are no longer in use because of the return to campus.” By having initiatives on mental health that utilize the in-person set-up, it would definitely help the students deal with the challenges they are facing.
When asked about her thoughts on Suicide Prevention Week, Alexa explains that “I’m definitely glad that we get to highlight suicide prevention week each year through our events and various projects, although I do think that more can be done!” She suggests that raising awareness can also be done during assemblies, advisories, and regular classes as well. “We should also ensure that the actions and attitudes we reflect are sustainable throughout the year rather than just during one week. Mental health issues are not exclusive to pandemic lockdowns, so it’s important to recognize this and ensure that students not only have access to resources, but are actively and genuinely encouraged to seek them out,” she adds.
As Suicide Prevention Week wraps up, the Bearcat community should continue to bring attention to this cause, becoming advocates for mental health awareness. If you ever see the warning signs that someone may be thinking of committing suicide, remember to ACT: Ask (acknowledge and talk openly about suicidal thoughts), Care (listen with empathy and encourage them to share their thoughts), and Tell (tell this information to a trusted adult, it might save their life). If you or someone you know has been struggling with suicidal thoughts, here is a suicide prevention hotline that you may contact for help: 0966-351-4518.