The Forum • April 15, 2013 • https://readtheforum.org/2763/op/health-at-latin-special-response-to-the-letter-to-the-editor/
In light of the letter to the editor in this week’s Forum, I sat down with Ms. Stevens, the school counselor, to understand more about suicide and its impact. While it might not be discussed in the Latin community as frequently as it should be, suicide attempts are extremely prevalent. Sometimes we’re scared and unsure of what to do or how to handle the situation, but there is a lot we, as individuals and a community, can do to help others if they have suicidal ideations or gestures.
Q: What should someone do if they get suicidal thoughts?
Ms. Stevens: It’s not normal to think about actually harming and ending your life so you should talk your counselor, an adult, or your advisor as soon as you can.
Q: At Latin, is suicide and its prevention a prevalent issue?
Ms. Stevens: The counseling office has been successful in helping students that have identified suicidal ideations and or gestures, and is here for them and their family. The school can help make accommodations for kids to get them the treatment that they need.
Q: Do you think we should do more at Latin to discuss the issue?
Ms. Stevens: Yes, I think mental health issues could always be talked about more. Personally, I wish I had more airtime at gatherings to talk about the issues. There can never be enough talk. So many people suffer silently, and this silent disease shouldn’t be so silent.
Q: What types of things can we do at Latin?
Ms. Stevens: We can do a lot…talking at gatherings, talking in advisories, having speakers, or another great thing would be to create some sort of club or school organization for mental health issues.
Q: What signs can friends look for in others to help catch suicidal ideations and gestures early?
Ms. Stevens: There are a couple of key ones: loss of interest in otherwise pleasurable activities, changing in sleeping and eating patterns, withdrawal, and changes in appearance. If you ever feel like your friends might be suffering, but you’re not sure feel free to email me and make an appointment, or stop by the office. Sometimes it’s hard to go to the “counseling office” so feel free to email me if that’s easier for you.
Q: What should someone do if a friend confides in them about suicidal ideations and gestures?
Ms. Stevens: The two most important things are to never leave them alone and to find and get an adult, whether it be a parent, advisor, or counselor.
Q: What’s your best advice on the topic, both for the person experiencing suicidal ideations and for someone dealing with the loss of a loved one because of suicide?
Ms. Stevens: I think to process the loss, talk to somebody about the loss, and maybe go to a support group, and I’ve got referrals to all those places if anyone needs it.
Q: Lastly, have you heard of Dana Kingsley and her story?
Ms. Stevens: It just makes me so sad that there weren’t signs and that it sounds like she didn’t really want to end her life. It’s sad that her action was a permanent thing. Usually, students who want to commit suicide show signs, and she didn’t, which is so tragic because it’s so atypical. And, it’s scary because Chicago has one of the greatest rates of teen suicide attempts.
After our interview, Ms. Stevens’ mention of the awful teen suicide rates in Chicago stuck with me. She sent me a couple links explaining Chicago statistics, and it’s not good. According to a CDC survey, about every one in six Chicago high school students have attempted to commit suicide in the past year. Since last year the rate has increased with, divided by gender, about one in every five females and one in every ten males attempting suicide.
These rates both surprised and shocked me into realizing how ignorant I was about the issue in our own community. Ms. Stevens mentioned “So many people suffer silently, and this silent disease shouldn’t be so silent,” which is something we, as a community, need to constantly remember.
Ms. Stevens and the Latin community are always here to help. If you or anybody you know has a suicidal ideation or gesture please see the school counselor Ms. Stevens or your advisor immediately. She understands where you’re coming from and wants everyone to know “You’re not alone, depression and anxiety can be cured and are extremely treatable diseases. There’s tons of help and it’s very treatable.”
To read more about suicide in Chicago:
To understand more about suicide warning signs: