When high schools throughout California were surveyed on the rate of suicidal ideation among their student population in 2017, the high percentages caused many districts to take a look at what they could do to better help their students. Collecting this data is crucial if districts want to ensure their students are mentally healthy and have access to the resources they may need.
Several districts did not administer the survey at all, while others ranked anywhere from 14% to 26% of their student population having suffered through suicidal ideation within 12 months prior to taking the survey. The districts that did conduct the survey were clearly making the decision with their student’s health in mind, considering the ones ranking even the highest were able to take the results and use them to determine what their students need.
Lake Elsinore School District now offers specialists who intervene with students K-12 who need help, as well as a program, separate from that of the Individualized Education Program, which offers help to students who may suffer from behavioral problems. Within two years, their rates dropped from 26% to 19% of students who had considered suicide within the last 12 months.
Morongo Unified School District began training their teachers on suicide and suicidal ideation and saw an eight percent drop within two years from 26% to 18% of students who had previously considered suicide. Rowland Unified School District began to promote better mental health among students more effectively through student involvement and training in suicide prevention, which led to a massive percentage decrease within two years from 44% to 24% of students who had seriously considered suicide within the last year.
Providing adequate mental health education and resources can be done, as clearly shown through the aforementioned districts, and can be done effectively. Whether the districts have managed to lower the percentage by only a few points or by a large margin, it should be commended that they have worked efficiently enough to make any beneficial change at all.
High school students have routinely had their mental health discredited and downplayed by adults claiming hormones, puberty and “teenage angst,” however, it should no longer continue that way. Those excuses can only go so far, and once 14-year-old kids start contemplating suicide, everyone needs to stop and take a look at what needs to be addressed.