VHS Holds Suicide Prevention Assembly

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On Monday, April 16, a representative from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Elizabeth Roithmayr, came to VHS to speak with the senior class about mental health and awareness while transitioning to college life.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, or AFSP’s mission is to raise awareness, fund scientific research, and provide aid and hope to people affected by suicide.

Within our town many families have been affected by the tragic losses in the past couple years. While there is no way to soften the pain that those families are feeling, what we can do is make sure it does not continue to happen in our community or anywhere else.

Ms. Roithmayr shared a more specialized program, called “It’s Real”, which is made for students entering college and current college students. Mainly the program tries to create awareness among these students and give them the right resources. Symptoms and feelings of mental illness were explained in detail, and students watched a 17-minute long documentary highlighting the lives of college students that have been affected by mental illness. The producers chose students affected by mental health that are from all walks of life. Two were student-athletes, one a music major and the rest were average college students. I think showing a diversity of interest at college was good for the senior class to see, because like Elizabeth said there is no “face” of suicide and it doesn’t affect just one type of person.

After the documentary was played there was a question and answer session led by Elizabeth. At first it was rocky but I think the senior class benefited from hearing the different perspectives on the topic while learning about signs and symptoms, all of our resources, and what we can do if presented with a problem.

Elizabeth Roithmayr is the New Jersey director for AFSP and coordinates events in the area like community and campus walks. Elizabeth worked alongside Verona’s very own Rosemary Gabbe, as they planned the walk held in Verona Park on October 22, 2017. There were hundreds of participants walking that day, and it truly brought the community together. There was over $140,000 raised for that event.

The money raised at these events is used to fund research and programs like “It’s Real”. While there was a huge turn out at the last walk there is expected to be an even larger crowd next October, and even more money raised.

This story originally appeared in the Verona High School “Fairviewer”. It is is reprinted with the author’s permission.

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