Suffolk Public Schools continues to build a stronger safety net for Suffolk teens by engaging parents and caring adults in important discussions about student mental wellness, teen depression and suicide.
The division exceeds expectations of the 2018 Virginia General Assembly which passed new legislation requiring mental health education in high schools. Suffolk Public Schools began its outreach to all 8th– and 10th-graders during the 2017-18 school year, well before the mandate.
Again this year, the division is partnering with The Sarah Michelle Peterson Foundation to initiate discussions in the classroom, staff room, and family room about teen depression. Central to those conversations is a video created by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to educate staff, teens and the community.
“More than Sad: Teen Depression” is a video designed to help students recognize the signs of depression in themselves or others, to challenge the stigma surrounding depression, and to learn how to ask for help.
Background … Mental well-being is an issue across the country, Virginia, and Suffolk as headlines increasingly link teen mental wellness to tragic events. Since 2006, teen suicide rates in the U.S. have been steadily increasing. Nationally, nearly 1 in 5 teens has reported seriously considering suicide in the past year, and depression is the single greatest risk factor for suicide. As hard as it is to say, nearly every city in Hampton Roads has suffered the loss of a teen by suicide in recent years. SPS recognizes that many more students are struggling.
Over the next three months, all Suffolk 10th-graders and 8th-graders will view the video in their Health & PE class. A trained mental health facilitator along with school guidance counselors will then lead a discussion about depression.
Before student presentations at each school, the teachers and support staff will view a companion video and discuss warning signs, what to say, and how to guide teens to help. In advance of the student lesson, parents will preview what their students will be seeing so they can be prepared for discussions at home.
Anyone who works with teens such as coaches, community sports directors, youth pastors, activity directors, and scout leaders is invited and encouraged to attend any of the parent and community discussions.
Schedule of Parent & Community Presentations:
- Wednesday, Jan. 30 … King’s Fork High School at 6 p.m.
- Wednesday, Feb, 6 … Lakeland High School at 6 p.m.
- Wednesday, Feb. 20 … Nansemond River High School at 6:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, Feb. 27 … Col. Fred Cherry Middle School at 6:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, March 6 … Forest Glen Middle School at 6 p.m.
- Wednesday, March 13 … John F. Kennedy Middle School at 6 p.m.
- Wednesday, March 20 … John Yeates Middle School at 6 p.m.
- Wednesday, March 27 … King’s Fork Middle School at 6 p.m.
NOTE: This parent/community presentation is an adult discussion covering the information students will receive in their classroom. It is not intended for young audiences as sensitive content is discussed.
For more information, please contact Cheri Hinshelwood, communications specialist, at (757) 925-6752.