Suicide Prevention at Bullitt East

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Suicide Prevention at Bullitt East

Jaiden Hammack and Makayla Stone

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With the United States suicide rates still on the rise, many feel that schools aren’t doing enough.

Suicide rates in the United States have been at their highest in decades, causing many school districts to implement prevention programs, including our own.

The students and staff have mixed opinions on a program implemented in schools to try to combat suicide. The program falls short on emphasizing the severity of mental illnesses and suicide as well as giving students the comfortability they need to receive help for their mental illnesses. While not all of the flaws can be easily fixed, there are plenty that both students and staff could work on, such as making students more comfortable with getting help.

Once every September, the school hosts a Suicide Prevention Day where students are educated about symptoms of serious mental illnesses that could lead to suicide. A video is shown that attempts to provide an example of how depression in high schoolers can lead them to have suicidal thoughts and the correct ways peers should respond to these situations. Then, a PowerPoint is presented to inform students of the indicators of a person experiencing suicidal thoughts and the steps that should be taken to resolve it.

While it helps some students open up about their problems, many believe that it isn’t effective. The Livewire posted a poll on Twitter where 80 percent voted that it wasn’t effective enough. Guidance Counselor Dana Steinmetz disagrees, “You have always had the program, so you don’t know the difference between what it was like before we had the program, so in my opinion it is effective.” After the program start, suicide rates in our school have gone down to the point where there hasn’t been one here in years.

Some students would also argue that the school could do more with the program. “I don’t think that we do enough. I think it would be good to give updates on more mental health. I think it’d be good to have more conversations with students,” said english and theatre teacher Daniel Barrett.

After the suicide prevention PowerPoint is over, students get identical-looking brochures and slips of paper every year. Some students may no longer look at them because they don’t think the information is different. The slip of paper allows them to let a counselor know they need help but not all students are going to be willing to check that, even if they really need help. They may feel like everyone knows why people get called down to the counselors on suicide prevention day. “I think it feels really disingenuous. Also, watching 30-year-old actors playing teens, it isn’t going to be helpful. It’s not relatable and it doesn’t reach the target audience. It doesn’t make any sort of connection and a lot of it is bull,” said sophomore Hannah Woodson.

This isn’t an issue that counselors can fix. They get to choose from the programs they are provided with and have to contact them in order to suggest any changes. Not all of these programs are fit for high-school level students, so the counselors try to pick the ones that would be most relevant and effective, but it doesn’t always reach high schoolers. Despite this, there are plans to change the graphics and general layout on the brochures for next year and add an option to talk to counselors on another day. “There’s a statue that says what we should do for suicide prevention and we go way above that. The statute basically says that we need to give materials out to kids and give them the national hotline. We give each high school and middle school at least three different programs and they get to choose if they want to do one program per grade or if they want to do one program this year and another one next year, so the kids don’t get the same program every single year,” said School Safety Coordinator Sarah Smith.

Many students don’t know about the student guidance website, which the counselors put together in order to help students reach out to them if needed. To set up an appointment students have to go to the student section on the Bullitt East website, select counselors, then choose which counselor they wish to speak with.

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