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School administrations must do more to help students struggling with mental illness

Suicide+prevention+is+an+important+issue+to+many+teenagers+but+because+of+misconceptions+about+mental+illness%2C+many+of+those+who+are+suffering+are+afraid+to+ask+for+help.
Suicide prevention is an important issue to many teenagers but because of misconceptions about mental illness, many of those who are suffering are afraid to ask for help.

Suicide prevention is an important issue to many teenagers but because of misconceptions about mental illness, many of those who are suffering are afraid to ask for help.

Photo via Google Creative Commons

Photo via Google Creative Commons

Suicide prevention is an important issue to many teenagers but because of misconceptions about mental illness, many of those who are suffering are afraid to ask for help.

Kerri Marble, Staff Writer

Students have shown disappointment with the school’s approach (or lack thereof) of the recent suicide and past tragic losses. The issue of the student’s dissatisfaction has reached a widespread influx of people. Students have started petitions and expressed thoughts on the matter through social media. Genavive Teresa Cicirello, a sophomore, petitioned to “raise awareness about the school suicides that occur within Neshaminy High School” online through change.org.
Currently supported by 851 people and counting, the petition reflects that Neshaminy families and many others share concern with this topic.

In the past, Neshaminy has provided support for the community, as seen with a tweet from July 18, 2015 on the @NeshaminyHS twitter page after a Neshaminy student committed suicide: “NHS will be open today, July 18, from 3-6 pm to support students and families in the wake of the sudden loss of NHS senior…” Despite their previous stance, the school does have reasons for its current withdrawal from the situation.

Under district policy, which can be found online through the district homepage, policy 527 states that “there shall be no visible memorials to recognize a suicide (i.e., planting trees, erecting monuments, hanging of plaques, etc.). Yearbook will not be dedicated to victims of suicide. There shall be no school-sponsored memorial service or assembly for the victim of a suicide.”

While the district does not go on to further explain the reasons for why they put this policy in place, a few unofficial grievances against the recognition of suicide that could include copycat suicides and/or the romanticization of suicide.

When one suicide occurs, there may be a belief that others could see it as a viable option. It may also be a belief that mourning the loss of those who committed suicide through memorials or any kind of recognition is in a way romanticizing or glorifying suicide. However, the 851 voices of Cicirello’s petition make it clear that this is not enough.

“The petition started by Gen is amazing and would help many people if the school would recognize it. This topic is close to me and has been a struggle for not only me but many other people in our school,” Lillie Zielenski, Neshaminy sophomore said.

The school thinks it would be better to have one or two days of it in health with videos that are outdated and do not do the topic justice. The school would rather keep these kinds of thing secret to ‘protect their image.’

“I think the school should at least have a moment of silence for our friends and peers who have committed suicide. They spend time to acknowledge the sports teams yet cannot have a moment of silence for those we knew and may have even been friends with,” Zielenski continued.

It is obvious Neshaminy families want more from the district. As a whole and united front, the school and its students should pay respect to those who have passed and their families, letting them know that the Neshaminy community cares that we lost a member of the Neshaminy family. Neshaminy should acknowledge the fact that a student felt compelled to end their own life. While blame should not be put on anyone, the school should do everything in its power to make it known that there are resources: people to talk to and places to go if a student feels suicidal.

The school district did send out a message directed to parents of Neshaminy students on May 5, 2017 on the school district app in regards to mental health, stating “listing of community resources [could now be found] on the counseling page of each school website.” Although the school informed parents of resources, there is still little being done to directly reach out to students.

People have a tough time discussing mental health. Health classes glide past the conversation, but people should consider mental health as a topic that needs to stop being stigmatized and tip toed around, especially in schools. Suicide and mental health awareness are critical for a better learning environment and the safety of the students.
It has nothing to do with romanticizing the loss of those who passed and wishing them back to life. This struggle demonstrates the people’s want for the school to be there for those who are still alive and those who suffer from grief of those who passed, those who struggle with mental illness or suicidal thoughts, and/or those who seek support. Students should be able to find it from the school that claims to be family.

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School administrations must do more to help students struggling with mental illness