Mukilteo Youth Advisory Committee hosting suicide awareness event

 

January 23, 2019



Mukilteo’s Youth Advisory Committee is aiming to promote conversation on suicide awareness and mental health with “Mukilteo Stands Behind Youth,” Feb. 13 at Rosehill Community Center.

The Mukilteo Youth Advisory Committee (MYAC) was established in 2009 by the Mukilteo City Council “to operate as a liaison between youth of the community and the City,” according to the City of Mukilteo’s website. The committee is made up of up to 15 high school-aged Mukilteo residents appointed to one-year terms by the mayor and council.

Their first order of business for 2019 was the organization of “Mukilteo Stands Behind Youth,” which will show the movie “Suicide: The Ripple Effect,” followed by a discussion panel with mental health professionals. There will also be a resource center with booths available for attendees.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for 10-24 year-olds in Washington state; men die by suicide three-times as often as women, and in 2015, 77 percent of firearm deaths were from suicide, according to the University of Washington and the state’s Department of Health.


The movie was created by Kevin Hines, who attempted suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, but survived. The movie chronicles the impact his suicide attempt had on those close to him, and focuses on his work as a mental health advocate after he attempted to take his own life.

“This event is a call to action for the people of Mukilteo,” Sargun Handa, a Kamiak student and MYAC member, said. “It is a visual celebration of the amount of people who support mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Mukilteo Stands Behind Youth is a community coming together to support everyone, especially youth.”

Handa, the co-chair of the event, said some MYAC members heard about the movie and saw it at a showing in Marysville, which prompted them to show the movie in Mukilteo.

“We helped raise money through GoFundMe for the exclusive film rights,” she said.

Handa said some MYAC members gave a presentation to the Mukilteo School Board, and learned that some of them will be coming to the event.

“They’re accepting that what we have in place now (in the Mukilteo School District) may not be enough,” Handa said.

Mukilteo School District spokesman Andy Muntz said the school district is proud of the students for organizing the event.

“Providing for the social and emotional needs of students is important to the school district, so we commend these students for the commitment that they have for this issue and for the work they are doing to organize this event,” he said.

Handa said she and many MYAC members hope this event leaves behind a legacy in Mukilteo that others will follow.

“A lot of us are seniors,” she said, “and we want to leave the Mukilteo School District in better shape than we had it.

“It’s a really heavy topic – that’s why we have the movie, resource and panel setting. It’s hard to talk about, but we have to talk about it. Youth are the future. We’re setting the foundation for future generations.”

Angie Wang, a Kamiak senior and MYAC member, said the group heard from many fellow students who felt what the school district was currently doing for suicide prevention wasn’t enough.

“We began this project after hearing a few students’ dissatisfaction with the current suicide prevention video that was shown in classrooms. All this is understandable, since suicide and mental health are difficult topics to broach, and even more difficult ones to solve,” Wang said. “But after we had a parent and a student attend one of our meetings specifically to highlight the scope of mental health issues in our community, it was clear we had to take more measures to address this.”

Handa said the project is personal for many MYAC members.

“A lot of students on this project have friends who committed suicide or have dealt with mental health issues,” she said. “We saw this and decided we need to do something about it.”

Madeleine Doi, a Mukilteo resident and MYAC member, is a junior at Holy Names Academy in Seattle, and said she is passionate about the event because she wants to raise mental health awareness in Mukilteo, thanks in large part to her experience with a project like “Mukilteo Stands Behind Youth.”

“I have helped execute a similar campaign at my school, and the results were greater than I could ask for,” she said. “A movie was used to start the conversation. Students who watched it were more willing to share about their own experiences and ask questions about resources and services my school offered.

“Many were in tears, as they too have experience mental health related issues and recognized that they were not alone. It brought all of us together, and made us feel more as a family that will support each other, rather than just classmates.”

Doi said due in large part to this experience, she is much more comfortable visiting a counselor when she is struggling, and is also able to be more open with her classmates.

“I’m confident that this movie will invoke a conversation and a bond within the people in the room,” Doi said. “Originally, I had thought that mental health was more of a taboo subject because it is not comfortably talked about, (but) being in the auditorium with my classmates, watching the movie and talking about mental health, (it) made me feel less alone and more willing to seek help. It also makes me more understanding of others that need help and the impact that we all have in helping others."

The event is 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Rosehill Community Center, 304 Lincoln Ave.. It is free and there will be free food.

“MYAC would like to encourage students, parents, and anyone who cares about mental health to attend this event,” Wang said. “It’s not a hefty time commitment, dinner is provided, and we can have an unfiltered, informative dialogue about these issues.”

For more information on the movie, visit http://suicidetherippleeffect.com.

To donate to MYAC’s GoFundMe, which helps with the movie licensing fees and future MYAC projects, visit https://au.gofundme.com/Mukilteo-Stands-Behind-Youth.

Author Bio

Brandon Gustafson, Editor, Mukilteo Beacon

Brandon Gustafson was named editor of the Mukilteo Beacon in October, 2017. Born and raised in Mukilteo, Brandon attended Mukilteo Elementary, Olympic View Middle School, and Kamiak High School, graduating in 2013. After high school, Brandon attended Shoreline Community College, earning his associate's degree while playing for the school's baseball team. He then transferred to the University of Washington, where he graduated in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in communications-journalism.

Email: mukilteoeditor@yourbeacon.net
Phone: 425-347-5634
Twitter: @MukBeaconBPG

 

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