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Suicide Prevention: Raising Awareness of Students and Educators

Kathryn Merola
Last month, Tilton School Guidance Counselor Angela Juurlink accompanied a group of students to a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Suicide Prevention Training at Winnisquam Regional High School. This post is a first-hand account of one of the attending students, Kathryn Merola '22. Kathryn is a freshman day-student from Meredith, NH. A separate training for faculty only was also attended.
A few weeks ago, Tilton’s Guidance Counselor, Ms. Juurlink, sent out an email labeled “Suicide Prevention Training,” inviting students interested in attending a prevention training. I thought about whether or not to attend for a few days, then decided the training was an opportunity I wanted to participate in.

On Friday, December 7, Ms. Juurlink, myself, and six other students attended the training, facilitated by NAMI of New Hampshire at Winnisquam Regional High School. Students from Franklin, Winnisquam, and Inter-lakes high schools were also present. At the very beginning of the training, Ms. Juurlink asked us of we would be comfortable talking about what we learned during the training to our peers at school. This made me think: "what am I trying to take away from this training today?"

I attended the Suicide Prevention Training for a few different reasons. I know that suicide is a difficult topic for most people to discuss. However, it is important to talk about considering how many people it affects. I understand that if more people are educated and aware of the causes, signs, and effects of suicide, we can bring awareness to this health problem. I wanted to be prepared to navigate any situation in which a friend or stranger may be suicidal.

We were trained to detect behaviors that may be signs of suicidal thoughts and reach out to a trusted adult to find help for somebody contemplating suicide. If somebody you know is experiencing social withdrawals or extreme mood swings, losing interest in activities and topics they are passionate about, or abusing substances, they could be at risk. It’s important to know that asking “Are you suicidal?” is not going to put the thought into a person’s mind, but could help somebody who answers “Yes.”

If you are in need of assistance regarding mental health or suicide, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If in need of one-on-one support information, dial 1-800-242-6264 or text 41741.
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