Suicide Awareness must continue on

-A A +A
By Bernadette Lauritzen

For Suicide Awareness week, two local high school students took mental health issues and attempted to inform the community about proper definitions and attitudes surrounding the tough topic.
After weeks of continuing education, Faith Glasco and Elizabeth Hjelvik will not give up the discussion or the objective to reach their goal.
“The suicide prevention week at the high school was not just a one time deal. It was not meant to be just a big week and then nothing for the rest of the year,” Glasco said. “We are planning to have little ‘reminders,’ throughout the year to let students know that they are still cared about.”
Glasco believes this topic will be especially timely in the spring when things start to get really stressful for teens, as well as adults.
The pair also inspired the Los Alamos Middle School Hawks to host a few events of their own, joining the Hilltoppers in their efforts.
The week timed out perfectly with a move to the new building, Assets Change of Heart training for improving school climate and the Wall of Awesomeness where students answered the questions: What makes life awesome? What makes me awesome?
“A great moment in the week was probably when I gave a flower and a compliment to someone who was having a really bad day,” Glasco said. “They told me that it totally made their day a lot better. It was also just really great to see how even very small changes in people’s attitudes really made a big difference.”
The small acts are what can change a mood, a day and even a directional path for almost anyone.
Hjelvik and Glasco spent Sept. 27 with guest speaker Ross Szabo, as he made two presentations at LAHS, one at LAMS and one for the community.
If you haven’t heard your student talk about the presentation, today is the day to ask them questions.
Szabo made points that every adult in this community could have learned from, in addition to students.
He explained that we as a society tend to think of the most awful case scenarios when the topic, “mental health,” comes up. Mental health is just a healthy balance and if we looked at making sure our mental health was as balanced as say our weight or cholesterol numbers, it wouldn’t be seen as such a tough topic.
Another important topic was something pretty simple — sleep. Szabo started at eight hours, asking students how much sleep they got each night. The sad thing is that when he reached four hours a night, there were many hands in the air.
So parents and caregivers, stop, look and listen. When you go to bed at night, make sure youth are headed in the same direction, listen to make sure audio devices are off and phones are silenced. Call a halt to technical devices and perhaps leave cell phones to charge in the living room.
Model good behavior because if you can’t sleep without the phone next to you, why would your kids be any different.
We need to take some time, have some conversation and engage while there is still time to make a difference and help youth create healthy life skills. We still have time and remember the Assets motto, “Healthy Community, Healthy Youth.”