Billboards Help Spread Suicide Prevention Education | News, Sports, Jobs

Photo Times Observer by Brian Ferry Art students from CORE and the Warren County School District are working together to spread an awareness message this month – Suicide Prevention Education Month. Pictured is Leah Carpenter’s work on a billboard on Warren’s east side.

September is Suicide Prevention Education Month.

CORE—Choosing Openness About Experience—highlights some prevention and awareness efforts by displaying county youth messages and work on billboards.

“There are six educational suicide prevention billboards located in Warren County that were created by art students from our local high schools,” Kari Swanson, CORE founder and Warren County Jail mental health specialist, said. “The artists are: Karson Lyon and Kendra McBride from Sheffield High School, Leah Carpenter, Samantha Wilhelm and Michael Carnahan from Youngsville High School and Taylor Napolitan, who graduated last year from Eisenhower High School.”

“It was a great project for CORE to partner with the school district, especially the art teachers, in creating these billboards for September as well as May which is Mental Health Month,” said Swanson. “My hope in making these billboards is to raise awareness of the importance of mental health and suicide prevention education. If just one of these billboards inspires someone not to do something something harmful or causes a person to ask for help, then the project has done its job.

“September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month – a time to raise awareness about this stigmatized and often taboo topic,” according to the National Association for Mental Illness (NAMI). “We use this month to change public perception, spread hope and share lifesaving information with those affected by suicide. Our goal is to ensure that individuals, friends and families have access to the resources that they need to discuss suicide prevention and ask for help.

“Thoughts of suicide, like mental health issues, can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or background,” according to NAMI. “In fact, suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health issue. Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues.

There are reasons to focus additional education efforts on young people.

According to the NAMI, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 24 in the United States. Nearly 20% of high school students report serious suicidal thoughts and 9% have attempted suicide.

“Dr. Carl Fleisher of UCLA Health makes an important point in his statement that ‘young people are especially vulnerable to suicide because of their social position and level of development'” said Swanson.

The development of the prefrontal cortex – which handles judgment and decision-making – is usually not complete until the mid-twenties.

“This means young people are more impulsive and may not weigh the risks and consequences of their actions in the same way as an older person,” she says.

“Socially, teenagers and young adults don’t have the same relationships as older adults and in today’s world, some people’s social relationships depend on the number of likes on a social media page,” said Swanson.

It’s essential to make people aware that they have personal connections and that people care about and watch over them. As Carpenter’s billboard says, “Someone out there feels better because you exist…remember that.”

“It is important to remind people struggling with mental health issues and suicidal thoughts to recognize their difficulties, to seek help and to remind them that they are not alone,” said Swanson. “It is also important to educate those who are not struggling with mental health issues and/or suicidal thoughts so that they know how to approach this topic, what to look for and how to get help. .”

It’s not as easy as looking at someone and thinking they’re looking down.

“Not everyone who contemplates suicide seems depressed or upset,” she says. “People who are self-sufficient and consider it part of their strengths may find it difficult to ask for help.”

Being silent on the subject offers no protection.

“Talking about the importance of mental health, the importance of reaching out to people in trouble, will not increase the risk of suicide,” said Swanson. “Ideally, it’s up to the person struggling to recognize they need help and reach out.”

“I believe we’ve gotten better at starting to change the stigma associated with mental health, but we still have a ways to go,” she says. “Some people struggling with suicidal thoughts struggle every day to give in to their thoughts of dying or choosing to live. Others will have fleeting thoughts of wishing they weren’t alive with no intention or plan to do so. difficulty.

September — or any time — is a good time to talk to someone who isn’t struggling either.

“A good foundation is to proactively check in with the people in your life to let them know you’re there so they’ll listen, not because they look like they’re struggling, but because They seem to be doing well.” said Swanson. “It’s a different approach that establishes during the good times that there are people in their life that they know are there for them and that becomes very important when they’re not feeling well.”

“I’m a big believer in education and I truly believe that when we get educated on things and continue to educate ourselves on things, that’s when we can start to make a difference,” she says. “Suicide was seen as a permanent solution to a problem perceived as insoluble; we need to be better problem solvers for ourselves and for those who struggle.

It’s OK not to be OK. “Where they are is OK” said Swanson. “If their position is murky, messy and uncomfortable, that’s fine too, but they’re not alone.”

Since July, 911 is no longer the only three-digit number dedicated to emergencies. The mental health emergency number is now 988.

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