* indicates that names have been changed to protect their identity.
Freshman Shawna Jackson* knows exactly what suicide is and was greatly affected by the two suicides in the Johnston School District this past January.
“They needed professional help,” Jackson said.
Jackson has been suicidal since October of 2011.
“I realized I was suicidal while I was listening to Rascal Flatts, and I was crying about this guy that started rumors. I have a pond by my house and I thought about jumping in.” Jackson said.
Professional help was what she needed but Jackson did not want the help.
“My friends are the best,” Jackson said. “They are always there for me and it feels amazing.”
Freshman Matthew Hull knows what it is like to be there for someone who is suicidal.
“Four of my friends have been suicidal and it hurts when I remember a few of them [and how they tried].” Hull said.
High school counselor Dawn Sherman has helped with many of the suicides that have showed up because of the Johnston suicide.
“You really just need to be their friend,” Sherman said.
Hull knows that suicide hits many more teenagers than everyone thinks.
“People think that suicide is a bad word and it’s really not. More people need to talk about it.” Hull said.
Parents are the last people who find out that their child is suicidal.
“Yeah, my parents have no clue and if they found out, I’d be better off dead. My friends keep pretty good secrets though.” Jackson said.
Sherman has many cases that walk through her door each year and she tells each parent what their child’s situation is.
“There’s a stigma about suicide. When you’re feeling that way you don’t know how to ask for help and so many students don’t know how to ask for help or even tell their parents for that matter.” Sherman said.
Hull knows that rumors quickly follow suicide. Many people think that suicide is a selfish act.
“I really don’t understand how people can call suicide a selfish act. I mean, if they feel broken and that’s their way of being fixed, at least they’re crying for help.” Hull said.
We all have triggers that make suicide become an actual possibility. There is a point where enough is enough.
“Many students are suicidal and show warning signs. Depression, anxiety, traumatic events, deep sadness, and trouble sleeping and/or eating are just a few warning signs.” Sherman said.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescent teenagers.
“Everyone’s situation is different so it’s not selfish because you don’t know their back story unless you ask, which they probably won’t tell.” Jackson said.
Emotions drive suicide as being a last resort.
“Be caring and understanding if someone tells you they are suicidal. Offer some emotional support and tell someone about it even if you’re afraid that they’ll hate you forever afterwords. Just be proud that you saved a life.” Sherman said.
There is a national suicidal prevention hotline. If needed, call 1-800-273-8255.
“I’ve called the prevention hotline. They’re helpful and it’s free counseling.” Jackson said.
Suicide is not something to joke about. If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, tell someone.
“It’s better to get help later than never.” Hull said.
Tell a teacher or another adult you trust if you know about anyone having suicidal thoughts.