The well-being of the children in School District 54 is of the utmost importance to us. In addition to our focus on academics, we have also been emphasizing the fact that the mental health needs of our students and employees must be a top priority.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Americans aged 10 to 34. District 54 is engaging in work with our staff and junior high students to increase their readiness to deal with people in need of emotional support and to be aware of the resources available to those who may be considering suicide.
District 54 will offer depression awareness and suicide prevention education as part of the SOS Signs of Suicide® Prevention Program in the junior high schools in October. The program encourages students to seek help if they are concerned about themselves or a friend. The SOS Program is the only youth suicide prevention program that has demonstrated an improvement in students’ knowledge and adaptive attitudes about suicide risk and depression, as well as a reduction in actual suicide attempts.
Students will be taught the simple acronym of A-C-T in order to help them respond to someone in need of emotional support. This stands for
- Acknowledge that you see signs of depression or suicide in yourself or someone else.
- Care. Show your friend that you care by listening and offering support.
- Tell a trusted adult so that you can get help.
During the lesson students will have an opportunity to identify a trusted adult and to let the guidance staff know if they or a friend is in need of support. It is crucial that our staff and students know how to deal with what can be an uncomfortable conversation.