You may have heard about or seen posters for the suicide prevention team lately. Contrary to what most people think, it is not actually a brand new club. Gavyn Tomtan, Maia Merlino and a group of students from the class of ‘16 founded the club during the 2015-16 school year. Last year, the club was fairly small with only about eight members. Those students continued to make presentations to classes. This year is the first year it’s open to the general student body.
So what is the club like now? It is split into three seasons that correspond with the sports seasons so that anyone can join. Inside the team there are three subgroups: The leadership group is the people who helped found the club, the outreach group is lower commitment and works with fundraisers and spreading the word about the group, and the prevention group goes to the classes and teaches the LEARN curriculum to students. This curriculum covers what one should do if they suspect someone they know is at risk for suicide. The LEARN curriculum was adapted from Forefront, a nonprofit that works with UW School of Social Work and that the club is affiliated with. “They will do presentations in every classroom, at least all freshman classrooms for sure, and maybe some of the others throughout the course of the year on suicide prevention. And we’ll do different activities to kind of both raise awareness of suicide prevention and to help destigmatize mental health issues,” says our school nurse Amanda Schwartz, one of the advisors for the club. The club aims to destigmatize suicide, spread awareness and help students know what to do if their friends or people they know are suicidal. “I really wanna get the idea that having conversations about mental illness, suicide prevention and suicidal ideation as a whole is super important to kind of making it so it’s a diagnosable and treatable illness when it does come up. So that’s kind of the goal of the club, to destigmatize it” says Gavyn Tomtan, the club’s president.
If this is an issue you feel strongly about, the club will participate in the out of the darkness community walk through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on October 22nd, and all Roosevelt Students are invited. The walk is in Fisher Pavilion at 10 am.
Photo of Gavyn Tomtan, RSPT President By: Lexi Hedges