From 1999 to 2014 the suicide rate has increased almost 30 percent. To me, this means that though the world has been progressing tremendously, a huge problem is not being focused on enough. Suicide is not a selfish act by a person who overreacts to events in his or her life. Suicide is evidence that someone was in a place so dark they could not see the light. Suicide does not affect one specific type of person only. Someone who is noticeably depressed and someone who is captain of the sports teams could both commit suicide, it is not selective.
Paige Bird was 15 years old when she committed suicide this past March. She lived in Baldwinsville, NY, participated in color guard and winter guard, and appeared to be an all-around happy young women. When she took her own life her family was devastated. They saw no signs of Paige's unhappiness. Now her mother has created a petition to make suicide education mandatory in schools. When I first saw this petition, I did not hesitate to sign it. As someone going into the Human Services field, I have always felt strongly about bringing awareness to mental health. Once I signed the petition and did more research I knew that it wasn't enough just to sign the petition, I needed to encourage others to do the same.
The main reason I signed Paige's Petition had to do with one of her mothers main points which suggests yearly educational programs on suicide prevention in our schools. These yearly programs will give students, community members, and parents real facts about suicide prevention. Along with that, these programs will help bring awareness to mental illness in general. It is so important, especially now, to educate the world on mental illness. In 2014 alone there were reported 3.6 million adults with a mental illness. That is roughly 14 percent of the entire U.S. population. It just seems logical that instead of stereo-typing and hiding something that affects nearly a quarter of the population, we educate and understand metal illness instead.
The second reason I signed this petition was because it talks of a little girl who doesn't necessarily fit into society's vision of a suicidal individual. Often society will create this "image" to go along with each label they throw at others. For suicide this image usually includes dark clothing, visible sadness, and social awkwardness. Paige was none of these things. Suicide does not discriminate. Depression does not discriminate. Mental health in general does not discriminate. It is essential to make this known so we can help as many individuals as possible.
The last big reason I feel that Paige's petition is so important is because it focuses on prevention, not just consequences. There are signs that many people who suffer from depression show on some level if they are having suicidal thoughts. Even if the families and students may not be suicidal themselves it would be fantastic for them to know what to look for if they ever become concerned about someone close to them. Not only that but the education classes will provide resources if someone isn't comfortable talking to anyone in their family or friends group. The mandatory information sessions would provide these individuals with hotlines and other services that they can call or go to if they ever feel suicidal.
One of my worst nightmares has always been losing someone I love to suicide. So for this matter to finally be brought to light and for people to take this so seriously means the world to me. The idea that entire communities will be able to get resources and facts about mental health and self-harm means the world to me. The idea that even one person could be saved due to this petition means the world to me. That is why I signed, that is what matters most to me. If this is what matters to you as well, please sign the petition to help get Paige's Law passed.