Suicide Prevention Week helps students relax and cope with stress

Teachers and students alike work hard to remind other students that life is more than school grades

Suicide Prevention Week is here at Westlake High School. Teachers and students alike are working hard to help raise awareness about suicide prevention. September 11th to 15th was filled with information about suicide prevention, as well as encouraging and inspiring activities done all around campus. Ms. Brooke Anderson and Ms. Katie Bryant, school-based therapists of Westlake High School and organizers of Suicide Prevention Week, were interviewed. 

“We felt that it was very successful.” Ms. Brooke said. “We noticed that many students were definitely participating in the Health and Wellness Fair on Tuesday, and with the therapy dogs on Wednesday. Teachers told us that students were talking about it and so anytime there’s discussion and energy about an event, we feel like it’s a successful one.”

Monday was a thorough affair, in which enjoyable games like Connect 4 and Jenga were set up all around campus. It was an innovative way to prove to stressed out school students that whatever they’re going through will inevitably get better, and that one can find joy in just playing simple games with their friends. Their goal was fully accomplished, as students all around the school were spotted enjoying themselves playing these games, during their lunch and passing periods. 

“I played a bit of Connect Four with my friends,” an anonymous student said. “I think I also got a ticket for playing ping pong. So yeah, that was fun. Definitely helped me relieve a bit of school stress during my lunch period. It’d be nice if this sort of thing was available all the time.”

On Tuesday, a health and wellness fair was set up in the NGC Research Center. It was enjoyed by all students who were passing the library to get to their classes, some even taking time out of their lunch period to visit the library. It contained fun activities that were designed to improve students’ mindset. These included many types of raffles with gift cards and other souvenirs as prizes, and several stalls where students could say positive things about either themselves or their friends. Westlake also brought in a pony to help the students calm down and relax. 

“I participated a bit in the health and wellness fair they hosted on Tuesday,” another anonymous student said. “I did the notes thing where you had to write down a positive thing about someone and stick it on the wall. That was nice, I had fun. I also got some candy.”

On Wednesday, about six therapy dogs were located at various places on campus with their handlers. Students could go up to them, pet them and take pictures with them. Their handlers also gave out specialized Pokémon-like cards, for each dog, which contained the dog’s name, a brief description of the dog, and its owner, as well as a picture of it. Students who were interviewed agreed that the dogs helped them relieve a lot of their stress, and that this was a great initiative.

“I saw the dogs. I mean, it’s fun to bring animals to school,” senior Chase Richert said. “It’s a nice thing. Great initiative to help people who are stressed out.”

Thursday wasn’t a very big event, compared to the previous days, but it was still fun. Flyers were handed out by teachers regarding suicide prevention awareness, as well as candy. A yoga session was also scheduled for each period on Thursday. Students got to go in groups, in their scheduled periods. Overall, students enjoyed the change of schedule and loved the relaxing sensation. 

“[The yoga class] was very nice,” freshman Cole Uhlick said. “It helped me calm down before my bio test next period. It reduced a lot of my stress. I would definitely do it again. 8/10”

On Friday, the school hosted a massive raffle, and all the people who wore green that day were entered into it. There was also a Google Form available to complete regarding information students would have gathered by simply participating in the week’s various activities, and those who got the questions right were given a chance to get a free Apple Watch by being entered into a final grand raffle to close out the week.

“I wore green on Friday,” an anonymous student said. “I got a raffle ticket, but I didn’t win. I also did the Google Form. It was pretty easy, I got all of them right. But still, I didn’t win.”

Suicide Prevention Week was a massive success, a feeling shared by a large number of students and teachers alike. Being the first large-scale event in WHS after Covid-19, it was a great effort by teachers and students who worked hard over the summer to be able to host it at the start of the school year.

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