A youth suicide crisis in Woodstock is creating a need for action and change.
Since 2016, five students have died by suicide and police report another nearly twenty attempts have been made.
Subsequently, students of four high schools in Woodstock, are planning to walkout on Tuesday, June 7th, 2016, at 9:00am, to a large fountain in front of the Woodstock Museum National Historic Site, in protest of what they consider insufficient resources for youth suffering from mental health.
A representative from each school is intended to speak to the crowd, to inform people of what the youth community is going through.
Woodstock Collegiate Institute, student Madi Thomson, who is diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and has an eating disorder, says education on all levels needs to be improved.
“I think teachers especially need to be educated on mental illness and what to do for their students who are suffering from mental illness…workshops need to be instilled for teachers, doctors, anyone working for the government.” she said.
Thomson, among others, would like to see improvements made in the Woodstock General Hospital mental health ward.
Having experienced first hand the services available in the hospitals mental health ward, Thomson feels like an increase in full time youth mental health counsellors is necessary not only in the hospital but in schools as well.
Another Woodstock student, Alec Bateman, has severe social anxiety and he’s in a transition program which allows him to receive his education at his own pace. He’s grateful that his school is understanding of his need for special accommodations.
Bateman also says that “doctors and nurses, in psych wards, do the best they can because they really do care about the youth that they are there for, and around every day. It’s just a matter of how much wiggle room they have to help.”
“When I was in the psych ward they would like to help as much as they can, but as much they can sometimes isn’t enough at all.” he said.
Many individuals in the community are placing blame towards the school boards, which mental health advocate Shannon Marie-Ficca says is her biggest frustration.
“You can put awareness programs out, however it won’t change the fact that mental illness is real and it won’t go away.” she said.
Ficca feels that although this crisis may trigger more suicides, it will also create a more sense of awareness, and allow kids to see how suicide affects families.
She believes that proactive solutions lie within education and hopes to see that schools incorporate mental health into the curricular, as well as, a crisis center opened up in Woodstock.
“I’ve been to the hospital several times and they don’t take youth, they’re 18 and over, usually they’ll send you home or send you to London, and then London doesn’t want you because you’re a Woodstock patient, there needs to be a crisis center for youth” she said.
After speaking with students, parents, and members of the community it seems that the areas in need of improvement are education, available resources, and funding.
Community members want to see action now, and not weeks or even months from now.
These causes in combination with raising awareness will be what the students of Woodstock, will be hoping to achieve through their walkout.
If you wish to be apart of the walkout, click here, to join the over one-thousand other supporters.
Any further information on the crisis, or mental health support can be found here on the Youth Suicide Prevention in Woodstock, Facebook page.