‘Teen Talk’ creates suicide awareness at Douglas High School | RecordCourier.com

‘Teen Talk’ creates suicide awareness at Douglas High School

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens in the United States. Nevada averaged the 10th highest suicide rate among 10-19 year-olds in the nation from 1999-2009.

To keep those rates at bay in Nevada and Douglas County, Suicide Prevention program coordinator Alisa Merino presented a "Teen Talk" to Douglas High School's Carrie McGill's health class Thursday.

Merino presented the facts about suicide and where and how to get help or what to do if a friend is suffering.

She hopes talking to teens about suicide will save lives, not just at the school, but in the community too.

"I want to give those who don't have a voice, a voice and change lives," said Merino.

During the presentation, Merino showed students a picture of smiling, angry and sad people and asked them to identify the person who was depressed and maybe thinking about suicide.

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Many pointed at the people who looked angry or sad.

"They all could be suffering," said Merino. "Not everyone has obvious signs of depression. Anyone could be at risk. To help them, we have to listen and be a friend."

Merino explained the difference of being sad and being depressed.

"Sadness is a normal human reaction to something that we get upset about — not winning the football game, not performing well on a test, a break-up. Depression is an abnormal emotional state that lasts two weeks or longer and affects everyday function and lifestyle."

Students shared what makes them sad, angry and stressed then learned how to manage those emotions in a healthy way.

"Everyone feels sad, depressed or angry sometimes, especially when dealing with the pressures of school, friends and family," said Merino. "Some people may feel sadness or hopelessness that just won't go away, and even small problems may seem like too much to handle."

Students were given advice on how to handle a situation where a friend is considering suicide.

"If you have a friend who is showing warning signs, don't wait to see if they will start to feel better, talk about it; they most likely will want to talk," said Merino. "It will show them that they are cared for and understood and it could provide a chance to ask 'have you been thinking about trying to kill yourself?' Asking if someone is thinking about suicide will not put the idea in their head."

Students also learned not to keep suicide a secret, whether they're the ones suffering or a friend.

"If you have a friend struggling don't keep it a secret even if they ask you to; because if you keep it a secret you are not helping anyone. They might get mad at you, but would you rather them be mad at you or have them dead?" asked freshman Morgan-le-Fae Veatch.

After the presentation students created awareness posters to be put around the high school, middle schools and community to help raise awareness about suicide.

Some read "speak up," "reach out," "make time," "be a friend" and "don't let your story end."

The posters represented what a student would say to a friend in need or what they would want someone to say to them and spreading a message of hope and help.

"I think it's (Suicide Prevention Network) a great resource for myself and someone else to use to help those who need it," said freshman Raven Cuzzort. "A lot of the times these resources are there for the one suffering, but not for the one trying to help. This presentation and the program showed us where we can go to get help and how to help a friend in need."

Suicide Prevention Network is a nonprofit agency that provides the resources to receive help, hope, comfort, understanding and support in a confidential environment while creating awareness in the community.

"There are many resources to receive help, whether it's for you or someone you know. Don't wait for things to get better, reach out," said Merino.

Douglas High School offers a Living Out Loud teen group that meets twice a month and discusses how teens can make a difference. Meetings are held the first and third Wednesday of the month 2:20-3:30 p.m. at the high school.

For more information visit spnawareness.org or 783-1510.

Living Out Loud teen group

When: 2:20-3:30 p.m. the First and third of the month

Where: Douglas High School

Info: 783-1510 or spnawarenes.org

Suicide Loss Support Group

When: 6-7:30 p.m. the first Thursday of the month.

Where: Suicide Prevention Network, 1625 Highway 88, Minden. Suite 203

Info: 783-1510 or spnawareness.org

National Suicide Lifeline

1-800-273-8255