Sedgwick Elementary School eighth-grade students read scenarios aloud about suicidal students to learn how to identify friends and classmates who might be at risk during Suicide Prevention Week Sept. 5-11. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY JENNIFER OSBORN

Sedgwick eighth-graders learn about suicide awareness

SEDGWICK — Eighth-grade students at Sedgwick Elementary School learned ways to identify friends and classmates who might be suicidal and how to help.

Counselors from Aroostook Mental Health Services gave a presentation to students on Sept. 9 as part of Suicide Prevention Week, which was Sept. 5-11.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-24-year-olds in the United States, according to Aroostook Mental Health, a private nonprofit organization.

Counselor Brittani Rhynold led the students through a series of situations involving fictional students who were dealing with issues such as depression, anxiety and life changes such as moving and parents divorcing.

Rhynold asked the students to identify warning signs that the characters might be at risk to attempt suicide.

Warning signs include trouble sleeping, crying a lot, giving away prized possessions, changes in behavior at school, drug and alcohol use, sudden changes in personality or attitude, Rhynold said.

Verbal signs of suicide risk include such phrases as “I wish I was never born,” “I was I was dead,” “My parents won’t have to worry about me anymore” and “I can’t go on anymore.”

Teacher Jessica Valdez told the students that if they notice someone seems troubled, they should alert an adult, whether a teacher or a staff person.

“Any adult in this building can get you or your friend the help they need,” Valdez said.

Valdez said students would be in a much bigger community next year when they go to high school.

If someone starts missing school, reach out to them, Valdez said.

“You don’t have to be weird about it, just call and say, ‘Do you want tonight’s homework?’” Valdez said. “Let that person know that you miss them and they count.”

According to Aroostook Mental Health, students at higher risk of suicide include those with low self-esteem, those who have been abused, molested or neglected, those who abuse drugs and/or alcohol and teens who are perfectionists or are struggling with sexual orientation.

Teenagers from dysfunctional families and potential school dropouts are more at risk for suicide, as are those who are in trouble with the law.

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.
Jennifer Osborn

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