This project was a part of Mental Health Day’s 2019 focus on suicide prevention; it helped to raise awareness and educate secondary school students to mental health signs of potential suicidal thoughts and ways in which they can enable themselves and help their friends and family members who might show these signs.
Facilitator Ms. Raquel Mathews of Psychologists for the Growing Mind Ltd.
We chose this project because statistics show that every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide and Trinidad has the 3rd highest suicide rate in their region. The fact that suicide is listed among the top 3 causes of death in adolescents and teenagers shows a need for awareness and sensitization concerning mental health and suicide. This project involves Goal 3 ( Good Health and Well-being ) as we make an effort to transform our world through projects working towards the United Nation vision of sustainable development goals.
Facilitator Ms. Raquel Mathews of Psychologists for the Growing Mind Ltd. shared the challenges faced by a secondary school student under stress, much to the amazement of the students present, and how it was possible to move forward successfully with family and professional support.
Ms. Mathews explained the difference between Mental Health and Mental Illness. She helped to raise awareness and educate the students on the risk factors and warning signs of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. She counselled on methods of communication which young girls could use to help themselves, their friends and family members who might show these signs.
The psychologist explained that mental health challenges are faced by almost everyone at some time and there should be no stigma attached to it. Therefore, students should feel comfortable to reach out for help from friends, teachers, counsellors or other trusted persons. She appealed to them to learn the indicators of suicidal thinking in people and to know how to listen and respond to them. She proposed simple and practical methods of ‘checking-in’ with friends and ways of supporting young people to build life skills and coping mechanisms. She further advocated for these young girls to play an important role in helping friends to build a positive social support network.
The session ended with the girls lustily singing the song ‘One Call Away’ by Charlie Puth. The song made them understand that a listening ear is one call away and that they too can offer support to their friends in times of crisis. The Soroptimists gave out bookmarks with details of phone numbers and places to go for professional help.
This Suicide Prevention project impacted the entire population of secondary school girls who were interactively engaged with Ms Matthews. Students remained well past the end of the school day to chat with her.
Some quotes from students:
“I am not the only one going through stuff … I can talk to someone.”
“It’s okay to talk about your problems and reach out to someone.”
“I am not alone and there are people that can help me figure things out.”
The girls singing One Call Away during setup of the session.