School officials learn more about student depression - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

School officials learn more about student depression

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

JONESBORO. AR (KAIT) - According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers.  Tuesday people who interact with kids the most were trained on ways to help save those young lives!  Teachers, counselors, and other folks who educate children are learning what the signs are they need to be looking for that a child could be contemplating suicide.  It's a tough subject, one that can even be difficult to talk about.

"In the general public it's not something you hear or see a lot about which is unfortunate because we need that information out there," said Nettleton High School Counselor Amanda Waln.

"It's something that's been recognized by the US Surgeon General since 2001 as a national public health epidemic," said Shelby Rowe, Executive Director of the Arkansas Crisis Center.

Teachers, counselors and others who work with teens are getting some eye-opening information.

"It was some very, very helpful tips from my perspective.  When we talk to students about this, if we have some concerns, we have the resources we need," said Waln.

Waln said her school does have a crisis plan in place and while this class has led to more questions, it will make their plan better.

"It makes us go back and say, ‘Ok, what can we do to be proactive?'.  Are there things we can do to educate our teachers, educate our staff to look for those warning signs," said Waln.

"If you're worried about a friend or family member or you just read a disturbing message that they may have put on facebook or a text, reach out for help because help is always there," said Rowe.

For every death from suicide, Rowe said it is estimated that there are about 100 others who are making an attempt on their lives.  In fact, it's estimated one in five people will lose a friend or family member to suicide.

"Personally, it scares me to death and so what can we do to get the information out," said Waln.

Rowe said people hesitate to intervene in the life of a young person because they feel they have a lack of knowledge, they worry about saying the "right" thing, they have feelings of inadequacy, or they believe some of the myths about suicide.

They take around 6,000 calls into the Arkansas Crisis Center every year.  Some signs you can watch for to know if someone who know if contemplating suicide include: increased alcohol or drug use, roller coaster moodiness or changes in behavior, neglecting themselves, neglecting friends or family members, and giving away prized possessions.  Not everyone will show these signs, but it's important that you say something if you notice a change in someone you know.  Rowe said even if you're wrong, at least you started the conversation. 

You can call the Arkansas Crisis Center at 1-888-274-7422 or 1-888-CRISIS2.

The event was put on by the Junior Auxiliary 2010 Provisional Class and funded through the Alex Blackwood Foundation.

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