Students meet to prevent youth suicides

The Suicide Prevention Intervention Coalition for Youth, also known as SPICY held a conference for high school students this morning at the Lake Charles Civic Center.  The students are participated in suicide prevention educational activities.

It was a year ago that a child took his own life at a Lake area school.  Now his mother is speaking out hoping to prevent others from having to suffer through the same tragedy.

The statistics are startling. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among those fifteen to 24 years old... And the second leading cause of death among college students.

It was a year ago this month when Amy Johnson's thirteen year old son Cole took his own life. Amy says Cole had a crush on someone and did not know how to deal with difficult feelings. "He was having an inner struggle within himself, carrying a burden and didn't know how to tell anybody about that burden."

Amy attended the conference for high school students where a show of hands revealed most have in some way been touched by suicide. Amy shares Cole's story to help young people realize the mistake of suicide is final and can never be erased. "I want to help other people not suffer through the pain that I've had to suffer through this last year. Of course, it's still very, very painful. But I think awareness is a big key in helping this generation. They're bombarded by social media, so many pressures. Just making them aware and helping them to help their classmates is a vital, vitally important."

The students are learning what they can do to help prevent suicide. Lexi Fontenot is fifteen years old. When she was only ten her eighteen year old cousin committed suicide. "I just want kids to keep in mind that there's always someone out there who will listen. Don't ever think that you have to keep things bottled up inside. It's okay to talk to someone about the feelings you're having."

Ernest Fruge is a school social worker and psychologist who is co-leader and founder of SPICY-- the Suicide Prevention Intervention Coalition for Youth. The young people engaged in role playing and discussed issues like bullying which is often a factor in the suicides of young people.."What we find is that often times the bullied child just doesn't feel like they have a friend, or anyone to lean on. What we want to work with our students on is befriending a person, knowing that it's okay to go up to that person and say, ' I understand that something may be going on. How can I help you?'"

The main message: If you know someone thinking about suicide be a lifeline. Take them seriously and get help immediately. You can call 1-800-273-talk.

Hear more of our interviews from today's conference by clicking on suicide web extra.

Copyright 2011 KPLC.All rights reserved

A local support group called Healing After Loved Ones meets the third Monday of every month at 6:00 p.m. at Cross Roads Books Store on Prien Lake Rd in Lake Charles, La. Organizers say the impact that suicide has on everyone's lives is devastating yet that most Americans remain unaware that suicide is a national health problem.

Suicide is said to be the second leading cause of death among college students and the third leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds.

Yellow Ribbon is a youth led club that empowers and educates youth about suicide prevention by using peer support to increase students' awareness. The idea is to promote awareness and education and thereby reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and create an open environment for discussion of mental health issues.

SPICY is a coalition consisting of members of our community that represent a variety of organizations. The primary goal is to eliminate suicide among youth by providing education, intervention and resource linkage. 

If someone you know is suicidal call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Look for more information on this story on later editions of KPLC7News.

Copyright 2011 KPLC.All rights reserved