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C-NS Kicks-Off Suicide Prevention Month Activities

On Friday, September 10, in honor of “World Suicide Prevention Day,” students and staff at Cicero-North Syracuse High School kicked off a month-long campaign to raise awareness about the topic. The mental health team at C-NS used the day to bring attention to the issue by engaging students in activities to educate and promote suicide prevention as well as overall mental wellness.

Kristen Stanton is the District-wide School-Based Mental Health and Wellness Coordinator for the North Syracuse Central School District. As such, she is instrumental in the District’s mental wellness promotion and she helped plan events at C-NS for their World Suicide Prevention Day.

Throughout the school day, students had opportunities to learn about suicide prevention and wellness issues and to participate in fun activities to win prizes. Many students took time to participate in an “I Matter” activity through which they shared some valuable traits about themselves.

The North Syracuse Central School District is focusing a great deal of time and resources on mental wellness this year in an effort to combat issues brought to light during the pandemic. Thanks to specific mental health funding, the District has been able to add additional mental health professionals throughout its buildings. At the high school, two additional social workers, a promise-zone specialist and a student assistance counselor are now available to work with students in need.
Stanton says that the increased number of mental health staff is critical to meeting the needs of all students. “In light of the challenges our students have faced over the past year and a half, it is imperative that we have the people we need in place to provide additional support so that all students can receive assistance in a timely fashion,” Stanton said. “This vital addition allows us to serve ALL students as they seek help and build the skills they need to successfully navigate high school and beyond.”

Stanton points out the troubling statistic that over the past several years, suicide rates for adolescents have steadily increased. In addition, she notes there has been an additional spike of 30% as a direct result of the pandemic. With this concerning statistic, Stanton says it is critical for our schools to have the resources in place to reach out to students and to destigmatize mental health concerns. Stanton said, “We need to work as a team to help these kids and to show them that it is OK and perfectly normal to reach out.”

Throughout the month of September, C-NS students are taking place in additional suicide prevention activities. Currently, students, staff and families are encouraged to learn about the “Got5 Challenge,” which promotes seeking help through a suicide prevention textline. Families can learn more about suicide prevention at a free webinar next Wed., Sept 22. Click here for information on the webinar.

Next week, students will take part in a “Chalk the Walk and Have a Talk” activity and contest hosted by the Onondaga County Suicide Prevention Coalition. The event encourages family discussion around the topic of suicide. Stanton talked about having other schools participate in the event and said, “We want parents to know about these activities and the discussions that are taking place in our buildings so that we can work as partners in prevention. By working together, we have the best odds of making the greatest and most positive impact.”  

As part of Stanton’s role in the District she will be providing training to students, staff and parents throughout the school year. The District will be using its website and other regular communication tools to promote activities and opportunities. Kristen can be reached by email at kstanton@nscsd.org or by phone at (315) 218-4213.

Click here for information about starting a conversation about mental health.