National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

There are two things that I have learned about the topic of suicide: No one is comfortable talking about it, and someone in your life who you least suspect is considering it as an option.2019-09-19 National Suicide Prevention Month Families, schools, communities have conducted far too many candlelight vigils, remembrances, and shed far too many tears in response to a national epidemic. Use this month shed light on this highly taboo and stigmatized topic.

Prior to the start of the football season, I, like every high school football coach, took the following certification courses on Equipment Fitting, Blocking, Tackling, Heat Illness Prevention, Sudden Cardiac Arrest, and Concussions. While all of those are critically important to the safe playing of our sport and crucial for their successful battles on the field, nothing is required to help coaches deal with the battles so many of our student-athletes experience off the field.

After completing the required courses, I decided to take an additional course on Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. It has helped me better understand the warning signs of anxiety and depression as well as the strategies to help overcome them. Some alarming statistics: Half of high school students report being “very stressed.” 1 in 5 students has an anxiety disorder and experience depression. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for ages 15-20, and more than 650,000 people in America (more than the population of the state of Vermont) are treated in Emergency Rooms every year following a suicide attempt.

If you work with students, you need to arm yourself with all the artillery you can muster to help them with their most difficult battles. There is most likely an event happening somewhere in your community. Get involved. Get educated. It could save a life.

On Saturday, September 21, RecFit (the fitness center owned and operated by St Johnsbury Academy) and Northeast Kingdom Human Services are working together to raise funds and awareness for Suicide Prevention with their Step Up for Suicide event. (Click the link for more info)

Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at and share with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, thanks for your time!

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