More measures for mental health: suicide prevention comes to West Ranch

Ashley Park and Kimberly Ayson


With the swift transition to a COVID-modified school routine, many students have been reunited with their peers and teachers, and some have felt more isolated than before. West Ranch’s Wellness Center has been organizing a variety of events, providing resources to students who may need them during this time of adjustment. 

West Ranch senior Avery Salin and sophomore Jessica Kwon hosted a suicide prevention presentation on Sept. 21 in the Wellness Center. The presentation helped to spread awareness and train students in handling situations regarding this matter appropriately.    

Last year, Mrs. Phillips, the Wildcat Wellness Center coordinator, reached out to the members of Bring Change to Mind, a club at West Ranch promoting mental health awareness, to be a part of a training led by the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program. Salin and Kwon, members of BC2M, took initiative to share their new education after receiving certificates for the completion of the program’s Zoom training. 

Salin explained the overarching goal of hosting a suicide prevention presentation: “It’s important to have as many people trained in suicide prevention as possible. Just to extend the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program’s reach and goal and to mitigate the risk of suicide. Change starts with one person at a time, so reaching each individual is really important.” 

During the lunch event, Kwon and Salin created a slideshow presentation in which they brought clarity to misconceptions of suicide, in addition to overlooked statistics and risks factors The second half consisted of preparation when speaking to a peer who might be at risk, and how students can contribute to eliminating the trivialization of suicide and self-harm.        

Through repetition and consistent reminders throughout, Kwon and Salin put forth the most important message of their training: help is always available. “I think just being aware that the resources are always available to you is the most important. And knowing that Mrs. Phillips, [and] other people who have attended this training and ourselves are always available to talk and listen to them. We can also get them the help that they need, especially at West Ranch,” Salin highlighted. 

Kwon furthered the prominence of Salin’s comment by restating statistics from the presentation to the Paw Print. “Like the presentation said,” Kwon recalled, “for ages 10-24, suicide is the second leading cause of death. We wanted to get this message out and let West Ranch students and staff know that you are heard and we have resources for you.”

West Ranch hopes to continue to be a safe space for many of its students through active communication of upcoming events and the education of mental health through activities pertaining to student wellness. 

Mrs. Phillips ends with a word of advice for Wildcats: “Reach out to people, friends, family, teachers, staff, counselors, anybody. And I think also to give yourself a little bit of a break. We’ve been through a lot of stuff in the last couple of years and so there’s just kind of a lot of things going around in our minds. So it’ll take some breathing to take a step away and to not let the pressure sort of overcome you because we have a lot of stuff going on in our lives right now.”

Cats, if you feel the need to talk to someone or are looking for a space to decompress, the Wellness Center’s door is always open. You can also visit the Wellness Center website for more resources.