Suicide presentation raises awareness, generating hope
There are teenagers who think there’s nowhere to go when they are depressed or having suicidal thoughts. But today’s suicide prevention presentation at Wadena-Deer Creek High School focused on helping raise awareness that it’s all right to seek help.
“We often back away from asking for help,” said Jon Ring, who along with three other colleagues from the Crisis Line and Referral Service (CLRS), spoke for 45 minutes to WDC students about “Suicide Prevention & Hope.”
He went on to tell students that untreated depression is like looking through a telescope backwards.
“Hope looks so far away,” Ring said. “But we’re here today to tell you, there’s hope and it’s not far away.”
Ring serves as area director of Timber Bay at Brainerd (youth outreach facility) and a member of the CLRS group. Mary Marana, executive director, Crisis Line and Referral Service, in Baxter; Dale Kuglin, area director, Brainerd Area Youth For Christ; and Carmon Thelen, staff support, Crisis Line and Referral Service, Baxter, were also on hand for today’s program.
Marana said their presentation focuses on untreated depression, recognizing the signs and symptoms of suicide and, most importantly, the message of hope.
“We want students to leave today knowing it’s okay to ask for help. There’s always hope,” Marana said.
While its normal for students to feel overwhelmed with school, family and relationships, there is a point when situations can make you feel depressed, Kuglin said.
“When several things trigger symptoms of depression, that’s when you need help,” he said.
Before concluding the program, Marana asked two favors of the students: put the Crisis Line and Referral Service phone number in their cell phone and put one or two names of people you trust in your orange Youth Pages book.
“And remember,” Marana said, repeating one of the themes of the presentation, “It’s okay to ask for help.”
Each student received an orange booklet from the Crisis Line and Referral Service called, “Youth Pages.” This is a directory filled with phone numbers of who to call for help on a number of issues affecting teens, such as abuse, addiction, cultural diversity, eating disorders, grief, harassment, peer pressure, pregnancy, stress and anxiety and youth violence. Furthermore, the book provides information on the signs and symptoms of any of these issues. The booklet was put together by the Crisis Line with input from school counselors and teachers, students and law enforcement agencies.
In addition, students received a business-card sized handout with one side stating the warning signs of suicide and the other side outlining symptoms of depression. Students also received an orange bracelet with the Crisis Line phone number.
After the presentation, students filled out a survey based on the “Suicide Prevention & Hope” presentation. Crisis Line members were available to talk to any student privately who requested it.
WDC High School Licensed School Counselor Toni Kraska said it is important to send the message to all ages that depression is treatable and help is available.
“Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, a common medical condition. The focus of today’s presentation was hope, there are stressors in our lives that can seem overwhelming but help is available,” said Kraska.
The Crisis Line and Referral Service does Suicide Prevention to 16 school districts and covers Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties. They’ve been in existence since July of 1988.
‘LIFE, Live It!’ this week ...
The first-ever “Life, Live It!” event begins Thursday, Sept. 18 with a Mental-Health Awareness Fair at M|State from 10am to 2pm; followed by the Wadena Lions hosting a Burger Bash on Friday, Sept. 19 from 5 to 7pm; and a six-hour Dance/Walk-A-Thon on Saturday, Sept. 20 at WDC Middle/High School.
This event is a community effort to bring awareness to mental health resources, such as suicide prevention. WDC Schools, The Cyber Café, M|State and other health and mental health agencies are hosting “Life, Live It!” Money raised from these events will directly go to mental health programs at WDC Schools and The Cyber Café.