NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 11-to-18-year-olds. Even more prevalent is depression.
For many students, school is a safe environment where they can share their concerns with trusted adults or peers. That’s why teachers, guidance counselors, school psychologists, school nurses and social workers gathered for the Screening for Mental Health SOS Signs of Suicide Prevention Program in Northampton.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about one in five teens aged 13 to 18 experiences a debilitating mental disorder at some point during that time period.
“The biggest risk factor for kids is depression, so it’s really teaching kids what depression looks like and then what they can do when they are worried about themselves or a friend, and that’s to “ACT”: Acknowledge, Care and Tell a trusted adult,” said Screening for Mental Health Project Manager Meghan Diamon.
The training didn’t end there. Each teacher, school nurse, and guidance counselor left with packets of information so that they could share it with their coworkers in the school system as well as with students so they could share it with each other.
“With a formalized training, it can’t hurt. And more education is never bad,” said Kelly Celeste, a school psychologist in the North Attleboro school system. She said she was attending so that she could share a formalized suicide prevention training in her school system.
Part of the program is education. The other part is screening students for signs of depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, signs of depression include persistent sadness, feelings of hopelessness, irritability, decreased energy, or aches or pains without a clear physical cause.