Last week, Burlingame counselors joined with faculty to spread awareness about depression and suicide. The big event was Sept. 26, when local support resources set up information tables in the Main Quad during lunch. These groups handed out bracelets, talked to students and coordinated mini games and activities. September was National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month, but the counselors decided to focus on the week of Sept. 24 to Sept. 28 in particular.
The counselors hope that the event helped to destigmatize suicide. Students have many resources available to them, and last week made sure that they know what the warning signs of suicide are and what to do if a friend is displaying them. When people avoid talking about suicide, however, students do not learn how to deal with it.
“When we look at the Healthy Kids survey, more than a quarter of our kids report feeling chronically sad or hopeless in the last 12 months,” Latham said.
Last week was intended to complement the freshman health curriculum, which teaches students about similar topics. In addition, San Mateo High School screened The S Word, a documentary about suicide, on Sept. 19. StarVista, a San Mateo County mental health organization, was one of the sponsors of the screening. StarVista also had a table at the You Matter lunch event, as did HealthRIGHT360, the crisis text line, Behavioral Health and Recovery Services and San Mateo Pride. The organizations brought information to hand out and talked to interested students. The counselors also had a spinning wheel with a true-or-false game relating to suicide, and they passed out yellow bracelets for the cause.
“In our culture, when we have topics that are stigmatized, people don’t talk about them,” counselor Karen Latham said. “This is one of the topics we are starting to talk about now.”