Editorial: Suicide Prevention Awareness Month deserves greater recognition

A+student-created+poster+recognizes+Suicide+Prevention+Awareness+Month+near+the+quad.

Hudson Fox

A student-created poster recognizes Suicide Prevention Awareness Month near the quad.

Outside of Carlmont High School, a flashing message has appeared on the electronic announcement board for almost a month: “September is Attendance Awareness Month.”

But there has been no mention of another month of awareness. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, but driving by or touring Carlmont, you’d be hard-pressed to find any mention on campus, save for a series of posters scattered around that were set up by students themselves.

Suicide is a complex issue; one that cannot be broken down into a one-line summary. The list of factors that contribute to one’s decision to take their own life is long, and the toll it has exacted on communities across the county, state, and nation cannot be understated. 

At Carlmont, the solution for reconciling the push for attendance and the need to protect students’ mental health is far from simple. Our board recognizes that, due to state law, a school’s state funding is partly determined by their average attendance, therefore incentivizing districts like ours to encourage students to come to school. 

Few states still follow this policy, and there seems to be progress in the state Senate towards a more equitable model that instead bases funding on total enrollment (Senate Bill 830), but this solution is still at least a school year or two in the future.

Furthermore, the Editorial Board understands that SUHSD is focused on improving attendance to promote “quality instruction” and meet the demands of “in person instruction post-pandemic,” per the SUHSD’s Local Control Funding Formula.

We also recognize that some “themed” months, namely Attendance Awareness Month, seem to have been created and implemented by the Sequoia Union High School District (SUHSD) in coordination with the staff of respective high schools. With the district as a major force behind this movement, it is understandable that a single school cannot diverge too much from official messaging.

But, given the gravity of suicide prevention and echoing the opinions of vocal students, action should and can be taken. Carlmont still maintains some autonomy over its messaging on-campus and in the administration’s communication with families of students.

As a modest step forward, the Scot Scoop Editorial Board urges Carlmont High School’s administration to recognize this month and distribute the list of resources included at the end of this article, preferably via a school-wide announcement or email that is sent during the month of September.

Moreover, our administration can play an important role in promoting on-campus resources. The Students Offering Support (SOS) program is a student-led initiative that has succeeded in supporting many members of our student body, yet doesn’t receive the same level of recognition that its achievements would confer. The Editorial Board calls upon Carlmont staff to uplift this program and other clubs with similar missions not only in the month of September but throughout the school year.

As to what can be done on a larger scale in the future, Scot Scoop’s Editorial Board urges Carlmont High School and Sequoia Union High School District to reevaluate and realign their priorities in the month of September. Hopefully, with a new education funding bill in the state Senate and more visibility being brought to suicide prevention, our school can move forth into a safer, more supportive, and destigmatized environment where students can have their mental health needs recognized and effectively addressed, even when it might cost them some days away from school.

*This editorial reflects the views of the Scot Scoop Editorial Board and was written by Hudson Fox.

Select resources for distribution:

National/state crisis lines and websites

For immediate response to a crisis, call or text 988.

Chat at 988lifeline.org or text NAMI to 741-741 for access to a free, trained crisis counselor.

For LGBTQ+ youth: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

Local Resources

StarVista’s 24/7 Crisis Hotline: (650) 579-0350

StarVista’s Teen Crisis Services Text Line: 650-747-6463.

Mental Health Association of San Francisco’s Warm Line: (855) 845-7415

Educational Resources (for families and students):

Suicide Is Preventable

#BeThe1To

California’s Each Mind Matters

National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI)

NAMI’s What You Need to Know About Youth Suicide

Get Involved:

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Note: this is far from an exhaustive list. More websites, hotlines, and other resources can be added to a list and shared with the student body and their families.