On Feb. 1, upwards of 70 students from every corner of Wa-Hi’s campus — LINK Crew, GSA, ASB, Latino Club, and all grade levels — gathered in the library to participate in a presentation by Mark Lee, coordinator for the Benton/Franklin County branch of the Youth Suicide Prevention Program (YSPP), on suicide prevention and awareness among teens. YSPP aims to show teens the ways in which they can recognize the signs of depression and suicidal tendencies in others, and potentially save a life by being informed.
Lee stressed that, although everyone goes through periods of grief or sadness, teens should be sensitive and perceptive to the feelings and actions of their peers, so they understand when someone needs to seek serious help or guidance. Lee highlighted multiple places that someone considering suicide should call or text for help, such as the local Walla Walla helpline at (509) 524-2999, and he encouraged students to save the numbers in their phones. It is crucial that you don’t hesitate to contact an adult if they are concerned for the wellbeing of themselves or a friend.
Lee made it clear that the student’s role is not to fix the things that are stressing the person in need; their role as a peer is to provide support and understanding, and to get that person in contact with an adult who can help them. That adult could be a teacher, counselor, principal, nurse, helpline or parent (their own or someone else’s). If you are sincerely concerned about the immediate health of a peer, you shouldn’t hesitate to call 911 and send help. As a friend, your link to that person is extremely important when connecting them to help.