Suicide attempts among Chaves County high school students peaked in 2007, with 12.5 percent of students attempting suicide that year, according to the New Mexico Youth Risk Resiliency Survey. (Steve Stone Graphic)
Between 2008 and 2012, 16 youth aged 5 to 24 committed suicide in Chaves County, according to New Mexico’s Indicator-Based Information System.
These are the kind of statistics Roswell High School Junior Hiram Olvera, 16, and his classmates want to prevent.
“I know for a fact that there are students who think about it and they need someone to talk about it,” said Olvera, president of student community service group Key Club at Roswell High.
School Based Health Centers in the Roswell Independent School District are promoting awareness about suicide throughout the month. The centers provide health care including mental health services.
The third annual suicide prevention event is part of state Department of Health’s “Talk About It” campaign. The campaign encourages students to seek professional help if they are feeling stressed, especially if they are considering suicide.
Each of the district’s three health centers is participating in the campaign for one week. Centers are located at Mesa Middle School and Goddard and Roswell High Schools. Goddard held a campaign last week and Roswell finishes its campaign today. The promotion will wrap up at Mesa next week.
Students are leading the push to inform their peers about the Talk About It hotline and mental health services available at district health centers.
“There’s counselors available every day at the school based health centers,” said registered nurse Kerry Hopes, who heads the district’s clinics.
Counselors are available Mondays and Tuesdays at centers at Mesa, Wednesdays at Goddard, and Thursdays and Fridays at Roswell.
Almost a third of students who visited district health centers last school year went for behavioral health services, according to data from the centers.
To educate fellow students about resources available for those considering suicide, Roswell High Key Club’s 31 members have put up posters, made announcements on the school’s speakers, slipped fliers into students’ lockers and disseminated stickers with the Talk About It phone lines, 505.277.3013 and 1.866.HELP.1.NM.
Youth can call the numbers to talk about any issues that are bothering them, even issues that do not seem serious.
“I think it’s better to talk about it than keep it inside,” said Key Club member and sophomore at Roswell Felix Rodriguez, 15.