Senior Raises Suicide Awareness With Personal Story at Forum


Senior Carolyn Lidster speaks at her forum about suicide as a part of her senior project for Civitas.

Katherine Borg, Editor-in-Chief

Senior Carolyn Lidster walks to the podium determined and ready to make a change when she begins her senior project. Lidster organized a school forum about suicide on Oct. 17. Lidster organized this forum for her CIVITAS senior project and was moved to choose this as her project after the death of her friend and former Rio student Bre White.

“Bre was the most talented, beautiful, and kind hearted girl,” said Lidster, “She was passionate and loved music and dancing.”

Lidster spoke boldly as she described the moment she lost Bre, which moved many students to tears.

“Roughly 500 kids attended the forum,” said senior Carolyn Lidster. “Many people cried and showed lots of emotion, proving that it really affected so many people.”

The forum began with a speaker named Julie Barnes from the American Foundation for Suicide. Barnes covered many shocking statistics about suicide and gave students valuable information.

“It was informative as well as emotional,” said Lidster.

Besides the emotional impact of suicide, it also causes a loss of $51 billion. There is no single cause to suicide, there are many multiple factors that cause the act.

Nine out of ten people who commit suicide suffer from a mental health disorder; studies have shown that the structure and function of a suicidal brain is different than someone who is not.

Only two out of five people with a mental condition seek treatment from specialists. It’s important that people recognize how important mental health is.

One of the most important ways to prevent suicide is taking care of mental health, it’s easy to get caught up in the busy tasks of everyday life which is why it’s imperative that people also take the time to relax and enjoy life.

Having better mental health can happen by exercising, eating healthily and getting enough sleep.

Barnes also covered how students could help someone they thought was suicidal.

Have a conversation and avoid minimizing feelings or convincing them of anything, was the advice she gave to students.

“People were afraid to talk about suicide, but it’s really something that needs to be addressed, especially with teenagers,” said Lidster.

Typical warning signs could be found in their speech, behavior, and mood. She told people to not be reluctant and assume they were the only ones who were going to help.

“It can happen to anyone, and we need to be aware and prepared when it does,” said Lidster.

Some prevention that could be taken would be a carbon monoxide sensor in vehicles, secure access to firearms, and having better barriers on bridges.

White’s mother, Sharon White, also came to the forum and gave a powerful, brave speech about Bre’s life and the heartbreaking struggles she faced.

It was very important to Lidster that students got the message to be kind to one another and that small acts of kindness can make a big difference.

“It’s so unfortunate that teenagers get caught up in the wrong things more often than not, and we need to start doing random acts of kindness,” said Lidster.

Lidster hopes that the forum was impactful for all the students who came to it, she wants them to leave, go out into the world and spread the message of kindness and awareness.

“Whether it’s holding the door open for someone, sending a random text to an old friend, or just being positive, we need to be kinder to each other,” said Lidster.

The suicide helpline is 1-800-273-TALK or you can text 741-741 for help.