Mental health programs needed

Published 10:13 pm Friday, February 23, 2018

Suffolk Public Schools on Wednesday held its first in a series of three programs meant to bring attention to mental health concerns for students.

The conversation couldn’t be more timely, as the mental health of students has once again been brought to the forefront of the national conversation by a deadly school shooting, this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Whatever one may think about gun control, school safety and the other policy issues that surround school shootings, there’s no denying that the mental health of students, former students and others who would carry out these dreadful crimes is also part of the equation. Mentally stable people do not open fire indiscriminately in crowds of people who are, in most cases, perfect strangers, whether those are students of any age or adults.


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Of course, many students and others who are depressed or suicidal will never commit a mass shooting, but they still need help, too.

The school division partnered with the Sarah Michelle Peterson Foundation for the programs, which include showing a video to 10th-graders in the division’s three high schools and having presentations at those high schools for adults — parents, teachers and others who work with students — as well.

The presentations feature the video “More than Sad: Teen Depression” by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The Sarah Michelle Peterson Foundation was founded by Michelle and Eric Peterson in honor of their 15-year-old daughter, who died by suicide in January 2014.

A proactive approach to student mental health is very much needed, and the school division did well to plan these programs, involve students and open them to all adults in the community.

The two remaining programs are set for 6:30 p.m. March 1 at Nansemond River High School and March 14 at Lakeland High School. Call 925-6752.