The Blame Game: Nobody Can Win


Two suicides in three months. This simple sentence cannot even begin to describe the pain and suffering felt by the entire CHS community. Why did this happen? What could have been done to prevent it? What do we do now? Many people have tried to identify the contributing sources of these tragedies, whether it be personal struggles with depression or other mental illnesses, or student and staff apathy.
However, there is no single cause of these deaths.

A blame game of what administration did or didn’t do, or what the counseling department or student body should or shouldn’t have done, cannot be played when trying to decide the determining factor in such tragedies. It should not take two suicides in a span of three months to push mental health awareness; it should be a constant focus of our community to prevent such tragedies from occurring. Everyone in the CHS community must be doing more to raise the level of awareness of mental health, from administration, to counselors, to teachers, to students and parents.

Before the tragic passings of sophomore Alex Baumann and junior Maya Castillo, the extent of the discussion of mental health at CHS seemed limited to the UMTTR signs in counselor’s offices.
According to a recent student survey, some students felt that the assistance the counseling department has offered is insufficient; however, the counseling department’s recent implementation of the Sources of Strength (SOS) day suggests otherwise. The day was administered by both the counseling department and SOS and had a rotation of activities centered on different sources of strength that students could turn to, such as healthy activities and their friends and family.

According to a survey asking students whether they thought that SOS day should become an annual event, 89 percent surveyed stated that they believed SOS day should occur annually.
The day itself was successful in helping students relax; however it did not put as much as an emphasis on mental health awareness as it could have. Out of the eight rotations based on the different sources of strength, only one of them was centered on suicide awareness.

While SOS day was not quite successful in educating and raising consciousness for suicide and depression, it was certainly a step in the right direction.

Additionally, administration must be doing more to push mental health advocacy and awareness.
Yes, there is a stigma of secrecy and shame attached not only mental illness but its discussion. However, the only way to break this stigma is to be able to openly discuss this topic without the fear of repercussions or judgment.

Involvement by administration is necessary for things to change. Students have shown that they are already willing to make a change when they coordinated U-nite on their own; now it’s time for the administration to make one as well.

Administration may have distanced themselves from U-nite in order to avoid glorifying suicide, however it instead created the assumption that they did not want to support the student body in standing up and unifying CHS. Administration must take part in creating a more open and accepting environment. They need to confront the issues of suicide and depression head on, instead distancing themselves from student-led efforts to unify the school.

Parents are also an important part in creating the change that CHS needs. If parents teach their children kindness and acceptance at home, students will take those values and instill them at school.

Finally, it is the responsibility of the CHS community to be more proactive with mental health issues as it cannot rest solely on administration or the counseling department. The student body itself must step up and address this issue head on, as it is truly impacting them.

High schoolers are typically known for being judgy and apathetic, but we all have it within ourselves to create a more open and appreciating environment. An open environment is built on kindness and friendliness, two simple qualities that all students are capable of expressing.

According to an anonymous student, CHS needs more acceptance. CHS desperately needs actions that strive towards equality in our student body. From simply saying hello to someone in the hallways to inviting someone new to sit with one’s group at lunch, these actions help to create an accepting environment.

These actions are incredibly simple to achieve. They just take the open minds of students and their willingness to be a kind and non-judgmental person, qualities that we all have and are able to harness.
U-nite showed the CHS community that the student body is capable of being inclusive. It was an event organized by the sophomore class to unify the student body and open up the discussion of mental health issues.

However, events such as U-nite, Wellness Week and UMTTR-sponsored activities cannot be one-time events; they should be held annually, and more student lead events like them should occur. Students truly do have the power to create change–we’ve started to see the potential this year
Our school needs change. It cannot just come from administration, or counseling, members of the community or the student body. It must come from all three working together, in order to truly change the environment from one of apathy and secrecy, to one of care and acceptance.