Arapahoe High to hold suicide-prevention walk

Community remembers recent tragedies, aims to raise awareness

Posted 3/18/19

Two years in a row of students dying by suicide haven't been easily forgotten at Arapahoe High School. This April, students are taking action to put mental health at the forefront of the community's …

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Arapahoe High to hold suicide-prevention walk

Community remembers recent tragedies, aims to raise awareness

Posted

Two years in a row of students dying by suicide haven't been easily forgotten at Arapahoe High School.

This April, students are taking action to put mental health at the forefront of the community's collective mind: Arapahoe students got involved with a national organization to put on a suicide-prevention walk on campus.

“Mental health is important and deserving of a conversation,” wrote Brooke Smiley, a senior at Arapahoe, on Nextdoor. “Suicide affects so many people worldwide, and this could be a step to improving the lives of those who struggle with mental health.”

Smiley and her friend, Ryan Renshaw, coordinated with Arapahoe and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to host the walk from 1 to 4 p.m. April 14 at Arapahoe High, 2201 E. Dry Creek Road.

Two Arapahoe students died by suicide within just days of each other at the end of September and beginning of October. In August 2017, a Powell Middle School student died of an apparent suicide that occurred on Mark Twain Elementary school grounds, one day after another Arapahoe student died by suicide.

Though recent years have seen a surge of focus by schools on mental health, youth suicide rates continue to climb, Christine Harms, the director of the School Safety Resource Center, has said. The center is part of the state Department of Public Safety.

“Nobody's quite sure why,” Harms has said. “But school districts are definitely aware. There's state money for grants, but we don't have enough mental health resources here in Colorado … We're far behind the ratios that are suggested for school counselors, school psychologists, as well as social workers.”

The students at Arapahoe want to raise awareness, as well as money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which — along with highlighting the issue — funds scientific research and provides resources and aid to those affected by suicide, according to its website.

You can register for the walk at www.afsp.org/arapahoe. Online registration closes at noon the Friday before the walk, but anyone who wants to participate can register in person at the walk from check-in at 12:15 p.m. until the walk starts, according to the website. Walk donations are accepted until June 30.

The “Out of the Darkness Campus Walks” program is a student fundraising series aimed at engaging youths and young adults in suicide prevention, according to the foundation's website.

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