‘Let’s talk about suicide’

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In a bid to break the stigma on suicide in the CNMI, particularly among the youth, the Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Program is hosting a series of mental health fairs in schools across Saipan this September, and on Rota and Tinian in October.

First stop is at Dandan Middle School today, from 8:30 to 11:30am.

Bringing mental health fairs to middle and high schools, said Ana Ada, who is the Youth Suicide Prevention Program project director at the Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Program, will teach the youth about having access to their services and to other organizations that could help them.

“Suicide is really preventable. We just have to open our doors. We go out and really talk to the kids,” Ada said. “We have serviced 116 kids, and every day, we get some referrals.”

Since starting on the island in March 2018, the GLS Youth Suicide Prevention Program has provided services to 116 individuals between the ages of 10-24, who have had thoughts of suicide or made an attempt to kill oneself.

The CNMI Office of Youth Affairs, as part of these mental health fairs, will be hosting a pledge booth at these fairs.

The “Tell Me” pledge is a nationwide campaign where everybody in the community can pledge to start talking about suicide. For schools, Youth Affairs would have a booth where students could take the pledge to start talking about suicide, so that they can be provided help if they need it.

“We want to kill the stigma, that it’s a taboo to speak about suicide. We want to help the youth to be able to speak about how they feel,” Sablan said. “We want to show unity, and that among schools, there are students that are taking this pledge to help stop suicide in the CNMI.”

“If you think you know somebody, or you think somebody else in your peer group, your friend is showing signs of suicide or might be suicidal, we want our youth to be able to ask them directly, so that they can talk about it, they can get the help they need.”

The mental health fair set schedules are as follows: Sept. 18, Wednesday, Francisco M. Sablan Middle School, 8:30-11:30am; Sept. 20, Friday, Saipan Southern High School, 12:30-3:30pm (will include students from Hopwood Middle School); and Sept. 27, Tanapag Middle School, 8:30-11:30am.

Iva Maurin | Author
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at iva_maurin@saipantribune.com

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