Community

Arlington youth suicide awareness forums start March 30

ARLINGTON — In response to the suicides of a number of young people in the community during the past two years, a group of Arlington community members, including parents and concerned professionals, are taking action to raise awareness about youth suicide.

The Arlington High School Booster Club and the Northwest Educational Service District are sponsoring a series of youth suicide awareness forums, with the first one scheduled for March 30 and the remaining four set to run throughout the month of May.

Forum organizers aim to furnish community members with the tools to help identify, prevent youth suicide, as well as aid them in seeking out support resources. Expert speakers will inform attendees of the factors that often contribute to young people's decisions to commit suicide, the behaviors that may indicate a young person is troubled and needs support, and the steps that each person can take to help prevent young people from making that decision.

These forums are intended for adults from post-high school graduates to parents. The AHS Key Club and Honor Society students will provide free childcare for children aged 3-12. Each forum will run from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Linda M. Byrnes Performing Arts Center.

March 30 will cover "Information We All Need to Know" on youth suicide, while May 11 will address the possible abuse of alcohol and drugs as a contributing factor. The forms and effects of bullying and violence will be discussed on May 12, while May 25 will be devoted to a laundry list of topics, including self-esteem, depression, anxiety attacks and the expectations placed on young people, by themselves and others. The forums conclude on May 26 by going over abusive and violent relationships, from dating and friendships to family.

Each forum will include a short discussion about a program called "40 Developmental Assets," which are small steps that each community member can incorporate into their daily interactions with young people, to help build their self-esteem and reinforce the sense that the community supports and cares about them.

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