English Teacher Puts Personal Slant on Suicide Prevention

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Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd

Suicide is claiming the lives of both the young and old at a rate never seen before in the United States. In fact, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reports that the age-adjusted suicide rate rose by 24% between 1999 and 2014. Even more tragic, suicide has become one of the biggest causes of death among adolescents and young adults.

For Brittni Darras, an English teacher at Rampart High School in Colorado Springs, suicide is a particularly sensitive topic. In her very first year working at Rampart, the school was rocked by a student’s suicide. Within a ten-day span the Colorado Springs community would lose two more high school students to suicide.

So when Darras learned of one her own student’s suicide attempt back in March, she decided to take action. First she wrote the recovering student a deeply personal letter. The student’s reaction to Darras’s thoughtful gesture was profound.

According to an article published by Today, upon reading Darras’s letter, the surprised student began asking her mother, “How could someone say such nice things about me? I didn’t think anybody would miss me if I was gone.” Stunned by these heartbreaking words, Darras decided to begin her own suicide prevention campaign.

In the months that followed, Darras composed 130 personalized cards to each of her sophomore and junior students highlighting their strengths, talents, and unique importance. These humble gifts were received so positively that Darras now plans to make her student letters an annual tradition.

Darras’s inspiring story serves as a great reminder that even small acts of kindness can help. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called suicide the second leading cause of death among the 15-34 age demographic. If you or someone you know begins experiencing suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/