September is Suicide Awareness Month, and September 10 is Suicide Awareness Day. Many of our schools have activities planned throughout the month to highlight the things that can be done to help students who may be considering a suicide attempt, but this is not something our schools can do alone. We need the whole community to join us to fight this epidemic.
Many think children have never had it better and it can be difficult to see and understand the stresses and challenges of the current generation of children. But all things evolve, and, with it, our students are faced with new, unknown, and never-experienced situations.
Governing board members and district employees are committed to helping our students in their daily lives, and that includes their daily struggles. We prioritize forming relationships with students, strive to understand the unique backgrounds and cultures of every student, and have the Teen Lifeline Hotline number on the back of all student IDs.
In fact, Pinnacle High School was the first school to participate in the School ID Initiative five years ago, and the rest of our middle and high schools have participated for the past four years. PVSchools Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Dr. Troy Bales serves as Vice President of the Teen Lifeline Board of Directors and has been instrumental in guiding the work the district has done in the area of suicide prevention. We are very grateful for his commitment to the organization outside of his considerable job responsibilities.
For resources and information on Teen Lifeline, visit TeenLifeline.org; their hotline is 602-248-8336.
But we can, and should, do more. That’s why this year each high school has one additional counselor on staff. It’s not enough though. We need our community to make these priorities clear to their elected policymakers. Helping students in this way will require a sustainable commitment of funds from the state to hire more counselors and social workers for our schools to address the significant issues we see on a daily basis. Not only will this help their mental health, but such interventions will allow each student to reach their full academic potential. It’s also the right thing to do.