One of the most devastating things a teacher can hear is that one of their students has died by suicide. You immediately ask yourself, what could I have done? Did I say the wrong thing? Why didn’t I recognize the signs? 

During my first six years as a teacher at Fort Dorchester High School in South Carolina, we unfortunately lost five students to suicide - it still haunts me to this day. Our school’s Students in Action team decided they couldn’t stand by and watch this continue to happen, so they jumped right in to tackle the much-debated issue of Mental Health. After doing some research, they discovered that every 40 seconds someone takes their own life. That amounts to around 700,000 people worldwide every year! What was even more shocking to the students was that suicide is the leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 29.  That hit home with all of them! With the memory of their fallen classmates and armed with these statistics, they had their “why” and got to work. 

Students at Fort Dorchester weren’t the only ones with their “why”. Members from Students in Action teams across the country are leading the way and tackling this issue head on. One such example is the team from Wren High School in Anderson, South Carolina. Following the suicide of a fellow classmate and feeling overwhelmed by the loneliness and isolation of the pandemic, this team raised more than a thousand dollars to support several different service projects designed to address mental health awareness and end “black and white thinking” around mental health.  

More than one thousand notes of encouragement were hung around the school as a result of their Sticky Note project. They also planned and facilitated a Mental Health Awareness Week, focusing on a different mental health issue each day, educating their classmates through morning announcements and social media posts. To honor their friend and classmate, they finished the year with the creation of a mental health garden at the school. The goal was to provide students with a safe space where they can acknowledge their thoughts and emotions without fear of judgement. 

September 10th is recognized as World Suicide Prevention Day and the 2021 theme is “Creating Hope Through Action.” This theme highlights a positive message that attempts to encourage people to engage in this difficult topic. We hope to bring awareness to World Suicide Prevention Day and support those that do the same, like Wren High School. The name of this day alone indicates that suicide can be prevented. Together we can end the negative stigma and “create hope through action” by raising awareness and lowering the statistics.  



If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, here are some resources to help: 


Resources about World Suicide Prevention Day and how to be involved: 


Resources from Multiplying Good regarding Mental Health Awareness: