OPINION: Mental illnesses must be addressed before more students fall victim

Asia Porter | Online Editor

In less than a year, we have lost two Comets, but this is hardly a new issue, not to society and not to Mason High School.

Suicide consistently ranks in the top three leading causes of death among 15 to 34 year olds. Mental illness is noted as one of the most important causes of suicide and affects one in five of us – of youth.

Depression currently stands as the third leading cause of death in adolescents, and it will drive 5,000 people ages 15 to 24 years olds to commit suicide every year, a number that has tripled since 1960. Yet 60 percent of those diagnosed with depression will go untreated.

The stress of high school and preparing for a future when our four years are up will inevitably lead to anxiety. While some go through periods of stress and then return to normal, others constantly remain anxious. Anxiety disorders occur when the anxiety is more intense or lasts longer than expected and dampers someone’s ability to function normally at school, work, or in social situations.

Other stressors such as academic pressure have also been linked to the climbing suicide rate. A poll of 804 teachers revealed 73 percent thought school today is more stressful than in the previous decade. Additionally, 89 percent thought high stakes tests and assignments played a role in increasingly anxious students.

Bullying, whether it be physical or emotional, makes an individual seven to nine percent more likely to take their life. One in three students are bullied every year whether that be daily, monthly, or an occasional occurrence.

Mental illnesses affect the way a person thinks, feels, behaves and can cause emotional, physical and functional issues, yet we only discuss this issue after someone has fallen victim to those statistics.

To the student battling with the decision to take his life: there are people who care about you  and value your presence. The test you failed doesn’t make you a disappointment. Block out the negative comments people make about you and focus on what you love about yourself.

To the rest of Mason High School: The outpouring love and support is remarkable, but the time to tell someone you love them isn’t after they have made the ultimate decision but before. It’s not enough to send your condolences to the families and then go back to your everyday routine the next day. If we continue to go about our same old ways, we’ll continue to get the same results: another fallen Comet.

According to Suicide Awareness Voices for Education, over 16 percent of students will seriously consider suicide, 13 percent will make a plan, and 8 percent will make an attempt. We only hear about those whose attempts have been successful but that doesn’t mean another student wasn’t plotting to do the same thing, wasn’t attempting to do the same thing.

Everyone has a duty to understand mental illnesses and know that not everyone is always fine. If you apply these statistics to MHS, over 600 students will consider suicide at some point. Not everyone is always fine. We can get so wrapped up in studying for finals or planning for  college that we forget to focus on the mental health of others.

Take notice of the people around you. Don’t get so wrapped up in your seven AP courses a day. Reach out to people who seem alone. Let your peers know how much they mean to you. Remember how much you are worth. It may be too late for Evelyn, for Joe, for Jacob, for Kwadwo, and the others that came before them, but it’s not too late for the next Comet struggling with a mental illness.