Genice Morton, LSW, MSW of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health presented a one-hour Suicide Prevention Workshop for the New Albany School District on Wednesday, May 4. This workshop fulfills the requirements of Senate Bill 2770.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death in middle and high school students in the state of Mississippi. Fifty-three students (ages 15-24) took their own lives in 2008 and 44 took their lives in 2009.
The Carnegie Task Force on Education says that school systems are not responsible for meeting every need of their students but when the need directly affects learning the school must meet the challenge.
One hundred sixty staff members are more equipped to meet the challenge because they know more about mental illness and the warning signs of suicide. Warning signs may include withdrawal, personality or mood change, school problems, difficulty concentrating, changes in eating or sleeping patterns, and lack of interest.
“Suicides are preventable,” Morton emphasized. “We have to learn more about mental illness, suicide, suicide prevention, and understand the warning signs.” Mental illness is a health condition that cause changes in a person’s thinking, mood, or behavior. No one is immune to having mental illness. It has no gender, race, or socioeconomic barriers.
“The more connected students are to school, the more likely for school success and healthy behaviors,” said Kyra Cossey, Counselor at New Albany High School. Cossey, along with other school counselors in the district helped to coordinate the suicide prevention workshop. School counselors Kyra Cossey, Julie Newton, and Stacy Morrisson had the opportunity to hear Ms. Morton speak at a workshop this past February in Jackson and knew she would be an excellent resource to use when training teachers and staff on suicide prevention.