Community Voices: The Need for Suicide Prevention Programs in Schools | Voice of the community

March is National Social Worker Month and Mental Health Awareness Month follows closely in May. As a future social worker, I want to draw attention to school suicide prevention. Suicide can be a risk for all people, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. Suicidal ideation occurs when a person contemplates, wishes, or is concerned about death and dying. Efforts to reduce suicide rates among children and young adults are cost-effective and necessary to limit the tragic toll that suicide can have on individuals, families, and society as a whole.

To avoid this tragedy, mental health professionals are increasingly available in schools. Fortunately, our community pays more careful attention to these issues. However, the need for mental health services is always greater than what service providers are able to meet. Services are not available to all individuals in schools unless they report their suicide attempts or are referred to them.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety and grief issues were most notable. Depression is associated with suicide, according to some research. During my school internship, I met students who attempted suicide with risky behaviors such as cutting and choking. Instead of dealing with the consequences of suicide attempts and suicidal crises, it is essential and beneficial to create preventive interventions such as online suicide resources for every school, from elementary to middle school.

The highest suicide rate of any demographic in the age bracket occurs among younger populations. It is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 34. The majority of schools do not have suicide prevention programs. Ideally, hands-on interventions could be better for students by implementing them in the curriculum with different approaches depending on their developmental stages. Thus, considering the workload of teaching professionals and the limited deadlines, online suicide prevention can provide easy access to each student with a preventive means of committing suicide with schedule flexibility and wide accessibility.

A great example of a school-integrated program can be found in the CSU university system, which has a Title IX program that requires every student to take an annual informational course on preventing sexual misconduct and gender-based discrimination. sex. The course provides scenarios, testimonials, resources, and actions to prevent sexual misconduct, help others, and more. It is a very effective way of educating students in a short time while providing a sufficient amount of information.

An online suicide prevention program is another helpful resource for people who want help with privacy, being encouraged to learn that they are not alone by hearing the recovery stories of others. According to a 2020 study, the suicide rate in America has gradually increased by 33% in 2017 compared to 1999. The target population for the suicide prevention program will be public school students between the ages of 10 and 24.

To get things done, we need a budget. California Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed total education funding of $119 billion for K-12 programs, contributing nearly $21,000 per student. This is a huge amount of money, and schools’ budgets need to be increased to improve their learning environment. However, keeping students safe should be another primary goal. I hope budgets are well spent to balance student well-being holistically.

We need state and national programs working in tandem to create suicide prevention programs based on evidence-based best practices. Implementing a suicide prevention program in schools could be cost effective in achieving this goal. Additionally, schools and mental health professions should advocate for suicide prevention by using social media, meeting with politicians to change systems and laws, and making public announcements to prevent suicide.

Taeyoung Mun is a Cal State Bakersfield graduate student studying social work.