On January 21, 2020, the Anne Arundel County Council unanimously voted to declare suicide a public health crisis. Seeing that 67% of firearm deaths between 2013 and 2017 were ruled to be suicides, and the slow but steady increase of non-fatal suicide attempts between 2014 and 2018, this data provided by the Anne Arundel County Department of Health shows just how harmful this matter is to the community - especially to those growing up surrounded by such heartache.
Upon hearing of this request to provide adequate treatment to those affected by and at risk of death by suicide, the students of Severna Park High School look forward to “breaking the stigma around mental health,” said sophomore Cooper Powell.
“This issue has been a long time coming,” Powell said. “It’s definitely a health issue that affects all different people of all different ages, and I think it’s very important to bring attention to the fact that it does affect so many people.”
When asked how effective this declaration will be among the SPHS student body, Powell said he believes that “because so many students struggle with mental illness, providing them with reliable resources will improve the school’s environment” through a shared community impact.
Seniors Katrina Schultz and Parker Cross are vocal advocates for mental health resources.
Co-founders of the “Our Minds Matter” Organization and members of the Anne Arundel County Mental Health Advisory Board, these two SPHS students are well informed on the topic of mental health policies and their influence among high school students.
The effectiveness of this resolution depends on the publicity it gets. “If people actually know that it’s there, and know what it means, I feel like a lot of people will reach out,” said Cross.
Much like mental health itself, the more awareness and normalization that this declaration receives, the more beneficial to our students it will be.
The week of March 16 through 20, SPHS’ Student Government Association (SGA) will put together a spirit week to help students destress while raising awareness for mental health.
“March is always a stressful time,” said SGA President Jared Smith. “With spring break and the piling up of snow days, our curriculum ends up getting crammed, and everyone is already so busy with Rock N Roll Revival, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, and everything else. No one has a moment to just relax.”
Throughout this spirit week, SGA will fundraise for the local charity Ellie’s Bus.
The cast members of this year’s Rock N Roll Revival XXXI will also fundraise for Ellie’s Bus by collecting donations from audience members during the intermissions of all shows.
The passing of this resolution brings to light issues that affect so many Anne Arundel County residents, let alone high school students. As long as the community continues to normalize informative talks of mental health and suicide, this newly-declared public health crisis will be defeated. In the words of Katrina Schultz, “It’s a first step, but definitely not the last.”