School Provides Resources for Students Struggling during Suicide Prevention Month

McKenzie Sullivan, Reporter

Every day there are over 3,703 suicide attempts in grades 9-12 in the United States according to The Jason Foundation. This makes suicide the second leading cause of death in ages 12-18. The Zero Reasons Why movement is for suicide prevention and fighting to help students struggling with depression, especially during the month of September, which is Suicide Prevention Month.

“I appreciate the Zero Reasons Why movement because I feel I’m being heard and acknowledged,” sophomore Jenna Draves said.

Beyond the Zero Reasons Why movement, there are other resources for students who are struggling. GEHS has a social worker, Allie Wagner, at the school to help students who are struggling. Wagner leads students to the Johnson County Mental Health association to get help.

“The best decision I have ever made was that night instead of harming myself I reached out for help.””

— Lauren Smith, sophomore

 “Johnson County Mental Health also has a 24 hour crisis line,” Wagner said. “There’s also a national text line which is 741741 ,and you can text that at any point and a mental health professional will respond. At the end of the day if somebody is really at risk of harming themselves, call 911 if you can’t get a hold of a professional.”

You can access the 24 hour crisis line at (913) 268-0156. Wagner has provided many different lines to get help, and her office is located in the school library. She is available to help students in need and she can help you set up appointments with someone or herself. 

“I can assess for safety and suicide risk, I can safety plan, I can provide coping skills and help them get through. I can have that conversation with them and their parent so that they can kinda have support in having that conversation,” Ms. Wagner said. “I can also connect parents to mental health resources outside of the school either by helping them schedule an appointment or providing an appointment myself.” 

These are all ways that you can get help for how you are feeling. If you are ever feeling unsure or feeling thoughts of suicide Wagner is there to listen and provide resources.

You may feel that you are the only one struggling with issues such as depression and suicide, but in reality people you may never expect may be dealing with the same things. Sophomore Lauren Smith has dealt with the effects of hiding her thoughts of suicide and self-harm. Smith was strong enough to share her experiences to show that these things are never the answer.

“During the beginning of this school year and last year I was really struggling with my mental health. I would hide it and always have a smile on my face around friends,” Smith said. “Harming was the way to go, I always thought to myself. I was so wrong though, it was never worth it in the beginning or the end of it. The best decision I have ever made was that night instead of harming myself I reached out for help. Since then I have had a great mental status and a supportive ‘family of friends.’ If you are ever feeling like this just reach out no one will judge you they will actually help you to get out of this.”

Smith realized that she has the right to get help. Once she came and shared how she was feeling, she has led a much happier life. 

Though not everyone feels they can speak on their feelings senior Ryanne Ham lets us in on some ways to notice signs of depression in your peers in case they are not willing to speak out on how they are feeling.

“Being more withdrawn than usual, lashing out at people, um wearing baggy clothes, not showering as much as they usually would, stuff like that,” Ham said to help identify potential issues.

These signs can help you look out for your peers even when you don’t know them well enough to know for sure. You can check in on whoever and they may appreciate it more that you know they will. Even with these signs to look for, you can never be sure of what someone is dealing with in their own head.

“Depression is a lot more common than people think, and it doesn’t always just look like sadness.” Wagner said. “Everybody deserves to feel content and to feel good and not everyone is given that opportunity.”

Depression is a lot more common than people think, and it doesn’t always just look like sadness.”

— Ms. Allie Wagner, social worker

With never being sure how someone is feeling, you always want to treat someone being cautious of what they could be going through. Teachers also can look out for their students if they feel they are acting differently than usual.

“If there’s ever a student who seems to be struggling or they seem to be angry or they’re acting out, not to punish that student but to ask them if they’re okay,” Ham said.

You should never be punished for feeling thoughts of depression or suicide. Letting someone know what you are going through can help them be more aware of how they are treating you and others.

Feelings of depression can commonly come from self consciousness and caring too much of what others think of you. Another student who has struggled with suicidal thoughts but wanted to remain anonymous spoke on the results of not being cautious of the approval of the people around you.

“I realized I don’t need other people’s approval and that I’m way better off as my own person,” they said.

There are so many ways to get help with different things at GEHS. You never have to feel alone because there are lots of resources that you can contact at any time of the day. Never feel afraid to reach out to someone if you are having trouble with thoughts of suicide or depression. Always think of how you are treating others and how you would feel if someone was treating you that way. Look out for your peers and look out for yourself. You matter.