Suicide prevention spurs Regina students to action

Suicide prevention spurs Regina students to action

Suicide prevention was on the minds of students and staff at Regina's Sheldon-Williams Collegiate on Tuesday. The school launched its "One Life Campaign" which hopes to raise $15,000 for Mobile Crisis in Regina.

Heather Ashton, 17, stood in front of more than 500 of her peers at a school assembly on Tuesday and shared her story of how she's dealt with mental health issues.

In Grade 9, Ashton was hospitalized due to her struggles with an eating disorder. 

"When I reached out and looked for kids my age to relate to I didn't really see a lot of people and I thought it was really shocking," Ashton said.

She said it is important to let young people to know there are resources and people out there willing to help them with any struggle they may face.  

"I think knowledge is power and the more that people know about issues like this the easier it is to talk." 

The month-long fundraising effort at Sheldon-Williams will end with an Awake-a-thon at the school. Students will try and raise $100 each to participate in staying up at the school through the night.

"I am kind of overwhelmed. It's so wonderful to see young people talking about such an important issue that affects them directly and be willing to reach out to each other to help, it's remarkable," said Jan Thorson with Mobile Crisis Services in Regina.

Thorson said the money raised will be used to purchase a new police radio.

Mobile Crisis did 25,000 client calls last year and of that, 37 per cent had a mental health issue. Thorson said more services are needed in the city to help people of all ages dealing with depression and other mental health conditions.

In 2015, the Saskatchewan Alliance for Youth and Community Well-Being released the results of a survey of 9,000 students in the province. It found that 19 per cent of students had considered suicide in the past year; half of them had actually attempted it.

In addition, 32 per cent of girls had harmed themselves at some point in their lives through cutting, burning, substance abuse or self-injury games.

13 Reasons Why a talking point at the school

The popular Netflix series 13 Reasons Why has the attention of students and teachers at the school.

The fictional show follows the suicide of 17-year-old Hannah Baker and the people she feels contributed to her decision.

The show has caused controversy for showing the suicide and the aftermath, which some say glamorizes the act.

Last month the Canadian Mental Health Association released a statement:

"CMHA is concerned that the series may glamorize suicide, and that some content may lead to distress in viewers, and, particularly, in younger viewers."

Teacher Kim Anderson-Cobb watched the series and said she has talked to students about it.

"For the most part I don't think it's a really good show for kids to be watching alone on their own. I would say that if kids are going to be watching it, if teenagers are going to be watching it to make sure an adult's watching with them, a parent's watching with them."

"It kind of glamorizes the idea of suicide and it also is kind of a revenge story than it is about the severity and mental health issues," said Anderson-Cobb.

But Grade 12 student Heather Ashton has a different opinion.

"I myself don't think it glorifies suicide," said Ashton.

"I think it's just a show and people should treat it like that and not determining real-life issues based on that."