Arizona Republic Highlights 'AZ Students for Mental Health' & VIP Effort to Address Youth Suicide


[Riana] Alexander, a soft-spoken, studious teen, has become a force for change in her community in raising awareness about students’ mental health needs, most critically the need for school officials to intervene when kids are showing signs that they are at risk for suicide. Schools in her district do a good job responding to crises, but she said where they fall down are in areas of prevention and what Alexander calls “postvention” — follow-ups with students after a peer has died....

They’ve testified in front of a teen mental health ad hoc committee at the Arizona Legislature, connected with numerous local faith leaders, held a vigil for people lost to suicide, and developed a social media presence with messages about subjects such as how to help someone who is physically harming themselves, [but]....

“They were frustrated at not having their voice heard in terms of what they wanted their own school district to know about their feelings about what they needed, and also the community at large,” said the Rev. Martha Seaman, a deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona who is president of the Valley Interfaith Project, which recently teamed up to work with the students. Several Valley Interfaith Project leaders met with the students “and the stories just started to pour out of everybody, including our own leaders, who shared stories about mental health challenges in their families,” Seaman said.

[Photo Credit: Michael Chow, The Republic]

Youth Mental Health, Teen Suicide the Focus During Civic Academy in ChandlerArizona Republic [pdf]