Samaritans inform students about suicide

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Cassidy Wang, News Editor

The Samaritans captured the attention of health classes during their annual presentation of suicide-prevention on Monday, October 17.

The Samaritans started giving interactive talks to health classes nine years ago and have been informing students on how to be helpful when friends exhibit suicidal warning signs.

“What I love about their presentation is that it’s not about suicide,” health teacher Melissa Arvanigian said. “It’s more about communicating and how to be a good friend and listener. That’s what they talk about: what you can do to help a friend, what are the different people you can go to in the building, what are the different avenues you can take. ”

For sophomore Vanessa Roy, the conversation was eye-opening. She realized that many of her peers may be struggling silently.

“There was a lot more people than I expected to have anxiety problems and have suffered from depression in the past,” Roy said. “It was sad to see all the people I considered friends to suffer from that and I had no idea.”

It wasn’t a depressing presentation; it was a very knowledgeable presentation.”

— Health Teacher Melissa Arvanigian

But after the Samaritans’ presentation, Roy will try to “be aware of what people are suffering from quietly inside.”

“A lot of people make jokes like ‘this test was so hard, I want to kill myself,’” Roy said. “People around them could actually want to kill themselves and they’re suffering from it so I wouldn’t necessarily consider [their comments] a joke anymore.”

Moreover, students learned how to approach difficult conversations with friends who may be considering suicide.

For example, they learned to not minimize their peers’ struggles by centering conversations around themselves.

Arvanigian cited that the Samaritans’ presentation was not only fused with knowledge, but it had “more of an upbeat manner rather than a depressing one.”

“It wasn’t a depressing presentation; it was a very knowledgeable presentation,” Arvanigian said.

“Knowledge equals power. The more knowledge we give them, the more powerful they can become with that knowledge.”

The importance of having conversations about suicide prevention and related topics is the key reason why Arvanigian continues asking the Samaritans to come back every year. She attributes the ability to have these conversations to the openness of the school community.

“With the nature of my job being a health educator, it’s so important to continue giving the kids the power of the knowledge of the different types of topics we discuss,” Arvanigian said. “We’re very fortunate that we’re in a school community that allows us to talk about all the various health issues that are out there, and they think it’s just as important as I do too to support us in this.”