What Plant High School is doing for National Suicide Prevention Month


Sydney Appleton

Above is a poster that is hanging up in one of Plant High School’s main hallways. As September is National Suicide Prevention Month, students and teachers across campus are taking the opportunity to discuss mental health and teach their peers and colleagues that it is okay to get help if they are struggling. Scroll to learn more about how Plant is responding to mental health.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and Plant High School is using the month to create a safe, inclusive environment where topics involving mental health can be discussed and recognized. Teachers and students are finding creative ways to educate the Plant community about suicide, as well as other mental health issues.  

Several of the school’s clubs, which are all student-led, are using their meetings this month to discuss mental health and suicide prevention. Furthermore, each club is using its social media account to spread the word on how suicide can be prevented and why the topic is so important. Plant High Schools SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) club is just one of the many clubs that have been taking action this month.  

Junior Maggie Spanke, who is one of the club’s board members, expressed ways her club is raising awareness of mental illness. “SADD does a great job at spreading the message that mental health is always important,” Spanke said. “Mental health is one of the only things you take through life, and it’s important to prioritize it for that reason. SADD teaches warning signs in a manner that is consistent with the way students learn.” 

Another way students and teachers are continuing this mission is by scheduling events during the school day that honor mental illness and spread the message that nobody is alone through their mental health journey. One way students did this was by organizing a “wear green” day, as green symbolizes awareness for mental health.  

Junior Luka Vai participated in the day by wearing green to support her school’s efforts to raise awareness towards suicide prevention and mental illness. “It’s really important to spread awareness towards suicide prevention and to show students that they’re not alone,” Vai said. We are all part of this big community that is supportive.”   

Teachers and faculty are also promoting mental health discussions in classrooms. Members of the school’s guidance office have been visiting classrooms throughout campus to give the ACT Now presentation. ACT is an acronym that represents the phrases acknowledge, care, and tell. The presentations enforce the idea that students should always tell an adult if they suspect that one of their peers is in danger, even if they are reluctant to do so because they are worried it could put a friendship in jeopardy. Speaking up can save a life.  

Guidance Counselor William Sullivan has been showing students across campus the presentation throughout the last month. “The biggest takeaway that we want people to get out of these presentations is that it’s better to lose a friendship than a friend,” Sullivan said. “On top of that, making sure everyone knows that talking about mental health is important and normal and to reach out when they need help.” 

Another counselor, Randi Litwak, has been giving the ACT Now presentation for the past month and wants to normalize discussions about mental health. “Our goal is to promote school and community support systems and normalize reaching out for help in order to save lives,” Litwak said. We would love for students to know who is who on our campus and what roles each person plays in keeping our campus safe.” 

Through the rest of National Suicide Prevention month and the rest of the school year, Plant’s students, teachers, and faculty members will continue to raise awareness for mental health and teach others about suicide to ensure a safe environment for all.  

For more information on specific mental health resources for Hillsborough County Public Schools students, click the link below.