A Community in Mourning. Again.

Some thoughts from me …

Severna Park has, quite tragically, been through this too many times before. And the community is mourning again. I am mourning with them because I’m a human and I’m a mom. The people that began reaching out to me two weeks ago were doing so because, as a journalist, I had done a series on the adolescent suicide problem in Severna Park two years before. Those that were contacting me now wanted answers, they were concerned for their own kids and they wanted to know what the school was doing to facilitate communication (a letter had gone out to students, additional counselors were available, Anne Arundel County Crisis Response personnel were also at the school and there is an upcoming presentation). At a meeting the other night, I was thanked for my previous reporting on this issue. I didn’t know how to respond and I still don’t. “You’re welcome” or “It’s my pleasure” – both of those are wrong. As a mom and a journalist, perhaps the response should have been, my work comes from a place of concern and I don’t want to see this keep happening.

My previous reporting for WNAV had already covered the study, “Adolescents under Pressure: A New Durkheimian Framework for Understanding Adolescent Suicide in a Cohesive Community,” authored by the sociologists Anna S. Mueller and Seth Abrutyn.
The reason I keep sharing this study is because a lot of research was done, there are a lot of valuable insights and people should see it. The study looked at a community called “Poplar Grove,” a pseudonym. Both sociologists had been to Severna Park, had met with members of the community and as the study indicated, they would return to the community to share their research and to help. Mueller returned to Severna Park and it was a packed house for that meeting two years ago. At that time and in the study, it was indicated blame should not be on one person or one group of people. The problem is the community. And it would take a community to help fix it. You’ve heard the expression, it takes a village. This is it.

Two weeks ago, I learned that Parenting for a Different World would be hosting another meeting, along with Burgers and Bands for Suicide Prevention and Elllie’s Bus – all three organizations are in Severna Park and all three are focusing on adolescent suicide awareness, education and prevention. The meeting, called a Talk in the Park, would be the first of more to come on the second Thursday every month. This one was about resiliency and responsibility. I shared information about that meeting on my social media (personal and Annapolis Creative) and also on WNAV’s social.

On Thursday, I attended a Talk in the Park, as did around 30 others. The meeting began with a screening of a TedTalk – a good one and one that, as a parent, helped me remember things that I had forgotten – important things. I’ll get to that in a moment, but watch this first.

After the screening, Nancy Lincoln Reynolds spoke. In my opinion, when Nancy Lincoln Reynolds speaks, people should listen. I interviewed her before for my series, she’s a licensed therapist at Woods Memorial Church Counseling and Care Center, she knows the community and she knows the adolescent suicide problem in it. Something that Reynolds said on Thursday night about research done in the community wasn’t covered in my previous reporting. Unfortunately, many communities have this problem, but what is it about Severna Park that makes it different from those other communities? The answer starts around 19:16 in this video posted by Severna Park Voice.

You can watch the entire meeting, thanks again to the video posted on the Severna Park Voice’s Facebook page. Parents spoke about the pressures of too much homework, not enough sleep and the number of AP and honors classes that kids are taking. Here’s a topic I brought up – while school personnel might want and quite often insist that students take AP or honors classes, parents can elect not to. Not only can they, they should at times. I did. And if you’re going to ask about getting into college, I’ll say you didn’t watch that TedTalk that was screened at the meeting and that I posted above. Jen Corbin from Anne Arundel County Crisis Response shared some thoughts well worth listening to also.

IT TAKES A COMMUNITY

A Talk in the Park – it is by the community and for the community. It’s about the village and it is the second Thursday of every month. You can put it on your calendar now and set it as a recurring appointment.

On Tuesday, March 19, from 6:30 pm-8:30pm, Chesapeake High School will be hosting an event in the school’s auditorium titled “You Are Not Alone”. The purpose of the event is to raise awareness of Adolescent Emotional Well-Being. Jen Corbin, the Director of the Anne Arundel County Crisis Response System will host the event. Topics will include an overview of the Anne Arundel County Crisis Response System, signs and symptoms of common emotional issues facing adolescents and links to available resources in the community. This event is open to everyone.

On Thursday, March 28, from 7:00 – 9:00 pm, the Indian Creek School PTO, in conjunction with its Guidance Department, is screening the film Angst, a work about the growing mental health concern of childhood and adolescent anxiety.  It will be followed by a panel discussion . Registration is required.

When I left the a Talk in the Park on Thursday night, I called my daughter (she’s 17). Here’s how the conversation went –

Me – “I know you’re taking the SAT soon and I don’t really care how you do.”

My daughter – “Really?”

Me – “Yes, really.”

My daughter – “That means a lot.”

LINKS FOR THE SERIES DONE IN 2017

“Poplar Grove” and a “Serious Adolescent Suicide Problem”

“Poplar Grove” and a “Serious Adolescent Suicide Problem” Part Two –

A ‘Call to Action’ in Severna Park

“Poplar Grove and a “Serious Adolescent Suicide Problem” Part Three

HELP

Hotlines for families and youth
Call 911 for immediate assistance in any emergency

CRISIS WARMLINE
410-768-5522
24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Maryland Youth Crisis Hotline
1-800-422-0009
24 hours a day, 7 days a week

National Suicide Prevention Hotlines
1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Anne Arundel County Public Schools Student Safety Hotline
1-877-676-9854
24 hours a day, 7 days a week

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