Counseling department educates juniors on depression, mental illness with Signs of Suicide program

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Samantha Fredberg

The counseling department is holding a signs of suicide program in all junior English classes April 3 to 13 in order to create awareness and dialogue surrounding mental illness.  
Throughout the two weeks, counselors have met with individual English classes to hold lessons. The program requires students to watch a video concerning suicide and mental illness, discuss the video as a class, and complete a questionnaire regarding their personal and school-wide health, according to junior Anna Dietl, who took part in the program.
“We feel that the program has brought awareness and support of mental health issues to the mainstream,” said counselor Christine Potter. “Some students who had never sought out support are now getting it.”
The video in the program follows four teenagers discussing the signs of suicide and possible outlets to find help, according to Dietl.
According to junior Livia Reider, who took part in the program, the video portrayed a situation that seemed unrealistic and too easily solved.
“The video was unrealistic because it was a boy was acting sad in his bed, and then his friend came in and said, ‘Hey, I noticed you’ve been down lately.’ The boy said he didn’t want to talk about it, and then the friend said, ‘Maybe you should see someone,’ and then boy said, ‘Okay, cool thanks. I will,’” she said.
According to Potter, the goal of the counseling department is to providing the student body with factual information about depression and suicide.
The annual program is held to address the issues surrounding mental illness, according to English department chair Melissa Dilworth, who helped to organize the program. “We are obviously very concerned about students’ mental health, emotional health, and well-being” she said. “We do this to destigmatize mental illness, depression, and anxiety.”
“It is important for the school to brush up on this sort of stuff and to make sure that kids know where to get help and how,” Dietl said. She explained that it was unlikely that the situations portrayed in the video could be mirrored, but that the video was still helpful.
According to Dilworth, the programming is impactful and essential. “The more we talk about it, the more we normalize it, the more we can help students and faculty.”
“Knowing how to help myself or a friend can become very useful in the future,” Dietl said. “I think we all need to be educated and have this discussion at some point.”