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SADD Takes Steps to Raise Suicide Awareness

StudentsWritingWelcomeBacked-cropped

by Jeanne Neuwirth, LSW, Pathways Clinician and SADD Club Advisor

Sharpie markers hovered in the hands of students over a banner while they thoughtfully considered their responses to the question posed, “How Can You Support Someone Who Is Feeling Down?”

Pathway’s SADD Club (Students Against Destructive Decisions) at Carteret High School took a multipronged approach to National Suicide Prevention Week/Month this year, with several activities that encouraged students to be more aware of the warning signs of suicide, and be supportive of people who may have suicidal feelings.

BEST students signing SADD suicide prevent banner 9 11 2017Throughout lunch periods in the cafeteria on 9/11, nearly 100 students wrote on the banner their methods for raising other’s spirits. Some advice was simple and straightforward: “Be nice,” Give them a hug,” “Try to make them laugh,” “Love them for who they are,” “Be someone’s smile,” “Tell them, “You have a purpose.”Georg others signing

Others offered these insights:

  • “Every day is a new day, it’s ok if you mess up, but pick yourself up and keep smiling and love yourself—you’re unique.”
  • “Let them know that they are not alone and that you will help them through everything.”
  • “Be a friend to them—even if no one else is.”
  • “Keep ya head up! You’re not alone & it gets better, I promise. Suicide is not the answer.”
  • “Be that person to help them get help.”

On a sunny morning later in the week, 22 SADD Club members came to school 40 minutes before the first bell and spread out across the sidewalk with boxes of chalk, as they set out to create vibrant sidewalk-chalk drawings and welcoming, StudentsWritingWelcomeBackedpositive messages--eventually covering the walkways leading into school with cheerful artwork to surprise fellow students as they entered the school in the morning.

National Suicide Prevention week provided a great opportunity to focus on the positive, while also bringing awareness to signs of suicide risk.

Two students also assisted the SADD Advisor in creating a bulletin board that educated students on the warning signs of suicide, which include suicidal ideation, hopelessness, withdrawal and mood changes, among others. In addition, the bulletin board encouraged students to, “Stay. Find what you were made for,” which might be any number of things from graduating college, to having a family, to exploring a rainforest.

All of these suicide prevention activities will culminate later in the month when Pathways brings a busload of 30 students to participate in the Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention walk.

Not long ago, a CDC report revealed alarming news about suicide rates: the US rate of suicide has risen to its highest level in three decades. And while New Jersey had the lowest suicide rate of among all states for many years, the suicide rate in NJ rose by 13% in a recent 2-year period. Even more alarming, NJ’s suicide rate rose fastest for girls ages 10 to 14-- tripling over the last 15 years. For the Pathways Program, these numbers show us that we must remain diligent in our efforts to reach more and more young people each year.

Pathways School Based Youth Services Program, funded through the NJ Department of Children and Families, Family and Community Partnerships, Office of School Linked Services provides year round services for the students of Carteret High

School. Additional funding for suicide prevention programming has come from Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

#SADD, #Suicideprevention

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