The Paly Voice

Admin promotes mental health resources, “Suicide Prevention Month”

Maya Akkaraju and Maya Reuven

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Editor’s note: Resources are listed at the bottom of this article for any person who is feeling depressed or suicidal. 

Following the death of a Gunn High School senior by suicide on Tuesday, Palo Alto High School administrators are offering a variety of supports for students and saying they will promote September’s “Suicide Prevention Month.”

This week, a variety of mental health resources on campus were available to students, such as school counselors, psychologists, therapists, CASSY support providers, and Wellness Center staff, according to a letter from Principal Kim Diorio sent out through Schoology.

According to Assistant Principal of Student Services Victoria Kim, the administration plans to take advantage of next month to focus on student wellness.

“September is suicide prevention month, so we will be planning some activities and events to promote awareness [about mental health],” Kim said. “For students who are interested in taking positive action and proactive action to promote awareness and to promote the health and well-being of our students, there will be opportunities through the Wellness Center to do that.”

Next month’s events align with the administration’s strategy to improve student wellness through a series of short term goals, as Wellness Outreach Worker Angelina Michael explains. Michael stresses that the promotion of student well-being will not end after September.

“It’s going to seem like a really big push in September, but I think that that’s more of just to start the process of what’s going to be happening throughout the rest of the year, like pet therapy,” Michael said. “We want to make sure these interventions are consistent, whether it’s working with sources, working with ASB, working with different groups to make sure that it doesn’t just seem like it’s a one month thing.”

Kim reiterated that Paly offers a vast array of resources for students in need, and urges them to take advantage of this support.

“We’ll always provide resources to students throughout the year, and those resources are our guidance office and our wellness office, providing support to students for a variety of reasons,” Kim said.

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 9.44.42 AM

The Wellness Center, located in the tower building, is one of the various resources accessible to students year round. Photo: Aisha Chabane

“As always, our counselors and our therapists and our mental health team are available to students anytime that they need to talk to somebody, or would like to talk to somebody, or they want to refer a friend. We have refer a friend boxes if students would like to do it anonymously.”

While student body wellness continues to be an issue in the Palo Alto community, administration will keep working to improve the school environment.

“Since our wellness center opened last year, we have made a conscious effort to promote health and well-being for our students and our staff,” Kim said. “Those efforts will be ongoing.”

A list of school and community resources is available on the Paly crisis resources page. If you need immediate assistance, the Santa Clara County Suicide and Crisis Hotline is available at 1-855-278-4204 at any time. These numbers are also available on the back of student ID cards. If you feel you or someone you know needs immediate support, please call 911.

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