(Editors’ note: This is the latest in a series of articles to be published on the topics of stress, anxiety and depression as well as suicide.)
by Jim Boyle
Elk River High School students presented some heavy information in an uplifting manner in seventh-grade health classes Tuesday at Salk Middle School.
Members of the high school’s Yellow Ribbon group shared a message about suicide prevention and an easy first step to combat it among their peers. Students were taught how to compliment one another and to think about why they “love life.”
“We want to create a cycle of positivity,” ERHS junior Mandy Sailor said. “If you leave someone with a good feeling, it spreads.”
The Yellow Ribbon group meets once or twice a month, at which time the group talks and plays games. The group also raises funds and helps out local and global causes.
But the group members are most committed to preventing suicide.
More than 30,000 Americans complete suicide every year, and in Minnesota there are more suicides than automobile accidents. Among youth and young adults between the ages of 15 and 24, it’s the third leading cause of death.
“It’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” Sailor said.
Yellow Ribbon encourages positive attitudes and outlooks on life. Members note that it’s OK to be sad, but when it lasts for long periods it’s OK to ask for help.
One of the Yellow Ribbon students shared a personal story about depression and explained how people that seek help gain respect.
Students were advised to not be mean to one another or judgemental, because people don’t know what people have gone through in their life.
The group noted that:
•People respect the respectable.
•Treat others how you want to be treated.
•Little things count – all of the little things add up to one big thing.
•Individual people can make a difference, starting with not only respecting others but themselves.
Salk students took part in a compliment game, in which every student was handed a piece of paper and asked write compliments about the people around them and then pass them along and repeat the step until each person in the row gave a compliment to another person in the row.
Students had some powerful compliments, which were evident by the smiles on students’ faces when they saw the things written about themselves.
•Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
•Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun
•Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
•Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
•Talking about being a burden to others
•Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
•Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
•Sleeping too little or too much
•Withdrawing or feeling isolated
•Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
•Displaying extreme mood swings
•Giving away possessions
•Previous suicide attempt
•Problems with school or the law
•Breakup of a romance
•A stressful family life (having parents who are depressed or are substance abusers, or a family history of suicide)
•Loss of security; fear of authority, peers, group or gang members
•Stress due to new situations; college or relocating to a new community
•Failing in school or failing to pass an important test
•A serious illness or injury to oneself
•Seriously injuring another person or causing another person’s death (example: automobile accident)
•Major loss of a loved one, a home, divorce in the family, a trauma, a relationship
Note: Warning signs are important, but it is very important to consider risk factors. Combining the two gives a clearer picture of the “stacking” in a person’s life and the increased risk of suicide.