The problem is still being ignored by a vast number of people, and ignoring it will not make it go away. The church must be involved in the education of its youth, too, because studies have shown that strong religious background reduces the risk of suicide in some youths, particularly African-Americans and Latinos (Wardlaw, 2004, pg. 37). Schools must develop programs that are more comprehensive for students and for counselors and psychologists, and they must create more funding for these programs to protect their students from harm. Journalist Portner continues, "In fact, a quarter of the deaths on school grounds are suicides" (Portner, 2001, pg. 48). Clearly, the school is heavily involved in the welfare of the child, and to ignore this is to put children at risk. The government must recognize this too, and do more to create funding for schools and local government to create more programs. This may mean raising taxes in some areas, but parents should understand taxes are a small price to pay for children's lives. The program would include getting all of these facets of society involved in a cohesive plan to education families, church organizers, and school professionals in the danger signals of suicide, and what to do to get help right away. More public awareness is the key to reducing this problem, and more public awareness can be created by advertising, school and church involvement, and educating parents in the many facets of this problem.
Clearly, funding is one of the critical issues to make this proposal work. Grants are one way to obtain national funding. Grants from healthcare, children's advocates, and the Federal Government are all sources of funds. On the local level, many advocates fund suicide prevention centers, and appealing to these sources could provide funds for the program, too. Initial costs would be advertising, mailings, and creating more local programs for awareness and understanding. As the program developed, fundraisers could also be established, similar to the national "Jerry Lewis Telethon," or local and national Public Broadcasting fundraisers. Creating more public awareness would certainly add to the funds available, and to the funds donated. In addition, schools and churches could solicit volunteers to educate, meet with parents and professionals, and work at educating other parents. All of these methods take time, but as the program grew, so would awareness, and hopefully the inclination for more people to get involved in solving the problem.
This proposal is not better than what is currently being done to prevent and recognize teen suicide, it would add to public awareness and create more individual understanding about what to look for, and what to do in the event a child seems suicidal. Public awareness has been developed for a variety of health issues, from CPR to heart attacks and even strokes. Teen suicide is also a serious health risk, and educating the population is critical in eventually reducing the problem and saving children.
Certainly there would be problems with such a large and demanding proposal. Coordinating efforts between the national and local levels would be difficult, and would have to be handled effectively to make the program effective. Funding would certainly be an issue until the program was established and more understood. Some members of the public would probably disagree with such public discussion of such a private and emotional matter, and some might even feel that discussing the symptoms of suicide might even encourage more teens to commit suicide. However, overcoming these problems would add to the strength of the program, and perhaps even make it more visible in the community and the nation. Creating more awareness of teen suicide is not easy, or even popular, but it must be done if the problem is ever going to be dealt with effectively.
In conclusion, it is quite clear that teen suicide is still one of the most important issues facing society today. America must find a way to diagnose and prevent more teen suicides, it is that simple. American youth are attempting suicide in record numbers, and it does not matter why. Schools, families, friends, and professionals must learn to recognized the symptoms of suicide, and act on them as quickly as possible. More lives will be saved, and society will be able to move on and concentrate on other pressing issues if teen suicide is reduced and fully understood by society.
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