By Emanuel Pena
Southside High School had a month-long effort to help students become advocates in observation of September as Suicide Awareness Month.
Since statistics show teenage suicides are rising, Southside faculty and staff spent time informing students of the positive values life has to offer through various activities and awareness-raising opportunities.
Counselor Sarah Williams encouraged the teenagers to maintain awareness while spreading thoughtfulness.
Southside students inspired one another to be positive by writing messages in chalk on the sidewalks around the campus.
One message read, “Love your life,” while another student wrote, “We’re all in this together.”
Students felt that having these daily reminders at their feet was a step in the right direction towards building a familial attitude at the school.
Aubrey Kinsey, Southside senior and president of FCCLA, wanted her fellow students to know that they each have a purpose. Kinsey planed on making a Why Live video, which will be part of a series that plays for the students. In the videos, classmates explain the significance of their lives today and in the future.
The staff and students find these videos effective because students relate more to their peers than to professionals, so spreading a communal positive energy is paramount to raising awareness, they said.
Another way to raise awareness was to surround the outside of the campus with flags. Yellow flags represented the students at Southside and purple flags will represent the number of young adults who commit suicide every day.
This effort visually reminded students that they are not alone because they have a community of peers standing beside them.
Although the roots of this effort were dedicated to the month of September, the awareness project will extend far beyond those 30 days.
Numerous posters with phone numbers for hotlines and advice forums students can call or text also are posted throughout the school.
Those at Southside are committed to fostering a positive, healthy and open environment for students where they have outlets for discussing and overcoming their obstacles.