County teens focus on suicide prevention training

From staff reports

During the 2019-2020 school year, the youth council students have been focused on creating awareness of stress and mental health needs for students and adults alike.

Many youth council students flooded their schools with stress awareness and positive coping skills information, along with where to get help for mental health concerns.

At the Dec. 4 meeting, the students were asked to take another step toward making a positive impact on the mental health concerns in their schools and communities and directly addressing the issue of suicide.

According to the Pennsylvania Youth Survey, nearly 20 percent of Clarion County students have reported that they have considered suicide in recent years.

Approximately 12 percent of 10th-graders have also reported attempting suicide. These statistics are concerning, but the situation is not hopeless – suicide is preventable and at the Dec. 4 Clarion County Youth Council meeting, 40 Clarion County high school students learned what signs to look for, what questions to ask, and where to get help to prevent suicides in our county.

David Delvaux, a volunteer from the Clarion County Coalition for Suicide Prevention, provided a thought provoking, interactive presentation on QPR (Question, Persuade and Refer) Training in an effort to equip students (and adults) to save lives and reduce suicidal behaviors.

Students learned through the training about how to recognize warning signs, behaviors, risk factors, and situation cues that may indicate an imminent suicide crisis.

Delvaux stressed the importance of how asking the right questions, not leaving the potential victim alone, and going together to get help can make all the difference in the world.

One of the most important things stressed was to not be afraid or embarrassed to talk openly about suicide and mental health concerns.

In addition to the suicide prevention training, students learned about what empathy is and how important it is to be a good student leader and a decent human being.

Students also planned for a kindness challenge and started planning projects for either Stress Awareness Month in April or Mental Health Awareness month in May.

Students who participate in the youth council are asked to actively participate in planning projects in their schools that both relate to the focus topic and/or any other needs they may see in their schools or communities.

The December 4 meeting was sponsored by the Clarion County Suicide Prevention Coalition, and was held at the Trinity Point Church of God.

Other sponsors for the year include the New Bethlehem Moose; Armstrong, Indiana, Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission; Community Care Behavioral Health; Rimersburg VFW; Roads to Recovery; and Sheriff Rex Munsee. The Clarion County Youth Council is a program of the Clarion County Family Net Collaborative Board.

For more information about the youth council, contact Amanda Cserr, youth council chairwoman, at Clarion County’s Promise at (814) 223-1590.