GR counselor works to raise suicide prevention awareness

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — September is National Suicide Prevention Month and as many groups work to raise awareness about this issue, one high school counselor in Grand Rapids is doing her part to make sure people know the warning signs.

Kristen Kuczera, a counselor at NexTech High School, says while 2020 has been a tough year for many of us, it’s also been troubling for the younger generation.

“Suicide prevention is a really important thing, especially now with the pandemic and everything that’s going on with that,” said Kuczera.

Kuczera says being in isolation brings on a few new problems.

“I can’t look at a student every day and see them as they walk in and kind of notice, hey something seems up with that person, let me go talk to them,” said Kuczera.

She’s still working to help her students virtually. She says when it comes to red flags, it can start with a person’s mood, their behaviors and then how they talk.

“Are they saying things like, ‘I just don’t want to be here anymore. What is the point? No one would miss me if I wasn’t here,’” said Kuczera.

If a person notices signs from a friend, Kuczera says it’s important to speak up.

“I always tell students it’s better to have a mad friend than a dead friend and so if they say don’t tell anyone, tell somebody that can help them and get them the resources that they need. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem and there are ways to work through that and to make it out on the other side,” said Kuczera.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached by phone at 1-800-273-8255 or online. They are available 24 hours a day and offer free and confidential support.