Suicide is preventable
The national problem of teen suicide is of great concern to us all, but was brought home to Douglas County by the death of 13-year-old Eric Marchant last June. Eric’s parents, Cindy and Larry Marchant, have been instrumental in arranging a visit to Douglas County by Dale and Dar Emme, the originators of the Yellow Ribbon Project, a national organization designed to help communities prevent future tragedies among our teens. The Emmes became powerful advocates for community suicide prevention following the death of their own son. Both the Emmes and the Marchants are working to ensure that other parents will be spared the pain that they have experienced.
Assemblies will be held at Douglas County middle and high schools during the second week of February to explain the program and distribute to students “yellow ribbon cards” which can serve as a cry for help when in need. Kids experiencing problems are urged to give the card to a friend or adult who can then help them get professional help. Numbers of local and national suicide hotlines are printed on the back of the card.
There will be a community forum explaining the Yellow Ribbon Project to parents and other interested persons on Tuesday, Feb. 9, from 7 to 8:30 p.m at the Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School Cafetorium. The program will be repeated for Lake residents on Wednesday, Feb. 10, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at George Whittell High School Pre-registration is not needed. Mental health professionals and other community leaders will be present to answer questions and show support. We’d like to see a great turnout at both events.
Mary Wolery, counselor at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School, has compiled the following information on preventing teen suicide.
n Teen suicide has increased dramatically in the last 20 years. Researchers estimate that each day more than 1,000 American teen-agers attempt suicide, and 18 of them die. In Douglas County, the most recent survey of high school students indicated that more than 31 percent of them had seriously considered suicide in the prior 12 months, while almost 11 percent attempted suicide one or more times.
n The term suicidal doesn’t mean depressed; it means “physically dangerous to himself or herself.” A person shows suicidal behavior when he or she talks about suicide or gives other warning signs that he or she is thinking about or planning a suicide.
Most suicidal teens aren’t really trying to die. They’re simply trying to solve one or many problems. Their problems give them emotional and physical pain, and suicide seems like a sure way to make that pain stop. In fact, most young people attempt suicide in their own homes between the hours of 4 p.m. and midnight. In other words, they attempt suicide in the one place where they are most likely to be found, and they do it during the time of day when someone from their family most likely will be around. Teens who are thinking about suicide aren’t able to talk about their feelings and pain, so they let their behaviors speak for them. Consciously or unconsciously, they hope their suicide attempt attracts attention and help.
n Suicide is preventable. Most suicidal youth are suicidal only once in their lives. They are dangerous to themselves only for a brief time – 24 to 72 hours. If someone stops them from carrying out their plans and shows them where to get help, it is likely that they will never make another attempt on their lives.
n Talking about suicide won’t give teens ideas. Talking about suicide gives teens a chance to let out the idea of suicide. If someone you know is hinting about suicide, he or she is already thinking about it. When suicidal thoughts are out in the open, they are less likely to become suicidal behaviors.
n Suicide is not just a way to get attention. While they may want attention, if someone is threatening suicide, their behavior indicates they are desperate and that things have gone wrong in their life.
n Suicidal teens believe their problems are serious. What may seem trivial to one person can be the end of the world to another.
n No special types of people commit suicide. Wealthy, poor, academically talented, popular, etc. are all at risk.
n A concerned, caring friend can make the difference between life and death.
Donations to support the Yellow Ribbon Project and future projects in Eric’s name can be deposited in account #73487-6 (Eric Marchant Memorial Fund) at the Greater Nevada Credit Union. For more information, contact Lance Crowley at 782-9811 or Cindy and Larry Marchant at 265-5213.
Lance Crowley is a Douglas County Juvenile Probation officer.
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