A group of students backing suicide awareness legislation are trying to raise awareness and teach peers about mental well being after the death of a student last fall.
Six seniors from Oakland area Messsalonskee High School are advocates for two bills promoting suicide awareness measures pending in the state Legislature.
“You’ve got to do something positive,” said senior Emma Walsh about their efforts prompted by the death of 17 year old Nora Birch.
The bills call for teachers to complete state required suicide crisis training and document that they have done so. Suicide prevention training is also proposed for social workers and counselors. Finally, the bills promote education about suicide prevention in health classes.
The students intend to testify before the committees when the bills are introduced.
Greg Marley, clinical director of NAMI Maine, which promotes mental health education and advocacy, said young adults thinking about suicide are less likely to call a professional or a crisis line and more likely to reach out to adults or peers.
“There is a reluctance to ask for help for mental illness concerns,” he said, adding that the general reluctance to ask for help is found in all age categories.