The Directing Change Program launched a new category in September 2020 and the second round of winners have been announced here. The Hope & Justice category is an opportunity for youth living through history to express their feelings and to inspire others through art. Open young people ages 12-25, submissions are accepted in all art forms: original music, dance, spoken word, poems, short films, Tik Tok and more. Youth can select from three topics: Hope, Justice, or a monthly prompt. Submissions around “Hope” focus on sharing personal stories about what gives us hope during these challenging times and how we practice self-care. The “Justice” option asks youth to share a personal experience with discrimination or injustice that allows others to feel empathy, or entries can educate others about bias and encourage youth to take a stand against injustice when they see it.
- October’s prompt was “Creative Ways to Measure 6-feet Physical Distancing” and asks youth to use their creativity to tell us how they creatively measure 6 feet physical distancing and why it’s important that we all practice this to slow down the spread of COVID-19.
Hope & Justice Category Winner:
“Our short film is meant to inspire hope by documenting how writing poetry has given me (Ryan) a sense of hope during this pandemic. Mainly, it focuses on how poetry acts as an escape from all the stress and gloom of the current state of the world. The message is not specifically about poetry, but finding something or someone that can help cope with difficult emotions.”
To learn more about Directing Change and the Hope and Justice Category and to submit your art, visit: www.DirectingChangeCA.org
Feelings of uncertainty and instability due to the unknown can take a huge toll on ourselves and everyone around us. According to the CDC, U.S. adults reported elevated of adverse mental health conditions recently. The increase was more significant among young adults, essential workers and minorities. Some people may be fighting personal battles – questioning whether to continue to live through the emotional pain they are experiencing.
We can all take simple actions to safeguard our mental health and save lives. Learn the warning signs for suicide and what to do if you are worried someone is struggling.
How can I tell if someone is having thoughts of suicide?
Although in-person interactions may be limited it is more important than ever to be vigilant for those around us to know the signs. Staying connected with regular check-ins is essential so you can recognize the warning signs. If you are worried that someone is having thoughts of suicide, the next step is to find the words and reach out. It’s important to talk openly about suicide, and to ask directly: “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” or “Are you having thoughts of ending your life?” Learn about the warning signs and risk factors for suicide at www.suicideispreventable.org.
You can also attend one of the Suicide Prevention Month events happening this month:
- Sunday, September 20 | 6:00-8:30pm
Virtual Screening of the film “S-Word”
- Monday, September 21 | 6:00-8:00pm
Know the Signs of Suicide Among African American and Other Communities
- Monday, September 28 | 6:00-8:00pm
Reconozca las Señales de Suicidio en la Comunidad Latinx
For details and a full list of events throughout September, visit smchealth.org/suicide-prevention-month.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please reach out to these 24/7 crisis hotlines: StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County): 650-579-0350, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741 or find additional crisis resources here.
#BeTheOneSMC to reach out and check-in with someone you know.
During September, San Mateo County recognizes both Suicide Prevention Month and National Recovery Month where individuals, organizations and communities join their voices together to raise awareness that suicide can be prevented and recovery is possible. As part of the many activities taking place this month, we are encouraging everyone to show their support by sharing their own stories and resources, or participate in the various Suicide Prevention Month and Recovery Month activities happening throughout the entire month. Together we can find hope, resilience and recovery.
This year’s theme is “Stronger Together.” Studies confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that connectedness is an important protective factor overall for suicide and that connectedness between individuals can lead to increased frequency of social contact, lowered levels of social isolation or loneliness, and an increased number of positive relationships. 2020 has been a year of unprecedented challenge, and yet we have seen how communities can come together in innovative and supportive ways.
To show your support for these observances:
- Attend any of the free events happening throughout the month in honor of:
- Suicide Prevention Month: Calendar of Events Flyer | Most current event updates here
- Recovery Month: www.vorsmc.org/recovery-happens
- Know the Signs for Suicide. Learn how to recognize suicide warning signs, find the words and reach out for help at www.suicideispreventable.org.
#BeTheOneSMC to reach out and connect with someone you know.
Office of Diversity and Equity Interns, Alicia and Priscilla, table at Burlingame High School to teach students about Suicide Prevention Month
A special thank you to Burlingame High School [BHS] for inviting us to their on-campus resource fair for Suicide Prevention and Awareness week. In recognition of September as the National Suicide Prevention month, the counseling team at Burlingame High School organized a tabling event which included community agencies such as StarVista, Health Right 360, The Crisis Text Line, and The San Mateo County Pride Center. The resource fair was held during lunchtime, allowing students to ask questions, learn about different services and resources offered, and gain awareness regarding suicide prevention. We were able to bring awareness to students about knowing the signs of suicide, finding the words to say to a friend or loved one, and how to reach out for help.
Alongside the tabling participation, BHS incorporated games and activities to promote their messaging campaign, “You Matter,” where students wrote positive messages of encouragement to express a shared sentiment of community support amongst peers. The poser is to be displayed on campus.
If you or someone you know is facing a mental health crisis, call the StarVista Crisis Hotline 650-579-0350 (1-800-273-8255).
For more information on how to help a loved one who may be at risk of suicide, visit www.suicideispreventable.org.
For information on San Mateo County suicide prevention resources, visit www.smchealth.org/suicideprevention.
Written by Alicia Vasquez and Priscilla Bustos, Office of Diversity and Equity interns
Last Wednesday, on September 19th, over 100 people attended San Mateo County’s first ever S- Word Film Screening and Panel hosted at the San Mateo High School Performing Arts Center in collaboration with San Mateo Union High School District, Star-Vista and the Office of Diversity and Equity.
The S- Word is a documentary following a survivor of a suicide attempt as she embarks on a mission to document the stories of fellow survivors and document their stories of insight, humor, and courage. She discovers a national community rising to transform personal struggles into action.
During the panel discussion, audience members were able to ask questions about suicide anonymously that were displayed on the projector for the panelists to answer. Questions included “how do I connect with others that are considering suicide” and “what’s the best time or age to talk about this topic?”
Sylvia Tang, Office of Diversity and Equity, Co- Chair of Suicide Prevention Committee, and Co- Coordinator of this event states,
“I am so thankful that we had an engaged audience who asked thoughtful questions and wanted more community screenings of the S-Word. This film helped start a dialogue about suicide; this is such an important first step in suicide prevention because it raises awareness and reduces stigma around suicide. We hope more community members and agencies join the San Mateo County Suicide Prevention Committee because we need everyone to help prevent suicide in our schools and greater community.”
Special thanks to all the panelists:
And all who tabled including:
This event was co-partnered by StarVista, The Office of Diversity and Equity, and San Mateo Union High School District.
With the start date of 13 Reasons Why Season 2 announced to be on May 18, youth crisis services are distributing resources online in preparation for youth who will be re-watching season 1. They encourage all to remind parents that while the show may be okay for fairly well adjusted teens to watch, the show can be triggering for those who are not or have had trauma or thoughts of suicide.
The 13 Reasons Why Discussion Guide encourages parents to watch the show with their teens, and encourage discussion afterwards. The guide also provides specific discussion questions and points that parents may use as conversation starters.
Many have taken issue with the season 1 release of the Netflix original, accusing the show of glorifying and romanticizing teen suicide. In response to this backlash, the show will be making a few adjustments to the second season such as having different cast members appear at the beginning of each episode warning of the content as well as an aftershow for the actors to have discussions and dialogues with mental health professionals and educators about the show.
Written by Nicole Marshall, Youth Outreach Coordinator
As of January 2018, StarVista, a San Mateo County community based mental health provider, is excited to announce the launching of its fully renovated youth website, OnYourMind.net. This represents a huge success as it represents an expansion of services, and is also a win for the teen volunteers who run the site and have advocated for the changes. The site focuses on mental health and suicide prevention education, offering teen blogs and instant peer to peer chat. Teens are encouraged to seek direct support on a wide range of topics including relationships, stress, bullying, depression, identity, and health. New to the site are several redesigned interactive features: blogs allow visitors of the site to ask questions and leave comments, and new chat software allows seamless connection to fully trained teen counselors Monday through Thursday from 4:30PM to 9:30PM. The best part? OnYourMind.net and its chat services are now completely mobile accessible. Read more
A portrait of Kim Jong-Hyun on a mourning altar at a hospital in Seoul on December 19, 2017.
Millions of fans mourn the tragic loss of K-Pop star, Kim Jong-Hyun, better known as Jonghyun, who died by suicide on Monday at the age of 27. Jonghyun was best known as the lead singer of K-Pop band, SHINee which rose to fame after the release of its debut EP, Replay, in 2008. As well as being a singer and accomplished dancer, Jonghyun played a large part in the group’s song writing and production. He had also made headlines for speaking out on issues of the government’s education policy and in support of LGBTQ+ rights.
Jonghyun was considered one of the most talented and well- rounded artists in the K-Pop music industry. According to SM Entertainment, the singer’s management company, “Jonghyun is the best artist who loved music more than anyone else, enjoyed the stage, and loved to communicate with fans through his music. We will always remember you.”
Suicide continues to be a prevalent public health issue primarily due to the constant stigmatization of mental health. A petition on change.org was created in honor of Jonghyun asking for more mental health support for artists in the entertainment industry. The petition explicitly asks for all entertainment industries to make a plan or program to monitor mental health in their employees as well as ensuring that the program would not be used against them and harm their careers. This petition, once reaching its goal of 300,000 signatures is expected to be delivered to Entertainment Industries and the South Korean Government.
Hopefully this petition will increase conversations about mental health and suicide prevention as well as recognition of its importance in saving a life.
This November, the Office of Diversity and Equity celebrates Native American Heritage Month (NAHM).
With Thanksgiving, a holiday known to be controversial for Native American history, just around the corner, visibility of Native Americans during this month is particularly important. NAHM recognizes the contributions that native peoples have made for our community. It is a time to celebrate the diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of our local tribes and also educate ourselves about the challenges Native people have faced and currently face, including health disparities.
Native Americans face a large number of behavioral health challenges, including suicide risk. Across all ages, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/ AN) populations in the U.S. experience high risk for suicide, with an overall suicide rate of 11.7 individuals per 100,000. This rate is greater than that for all other subgroups except white males, who have a suicide rate of 23.4 individuals per 100,000. Source
The existence of Native American Heritage Month alone does not have the capability to improve the lives or health outcomes of Native Americans living in San Mateo County. We as individuals and as a community must make an active effort to celebrate Native American achievements and educate ourselves about current challenges to make the month meaningful.
For the last 5 years the Office of Diversity and Equity’s Latino Collaborative has put together the Annual Latino Health Forum, “Sana, Sana Colita de Rana” to provide an opportunity for Latino families to come together to learn strategies for emotional and physical well-being.
But what does the phrase “Sana, Sana Colita de Rana” mean?
When translated literally it means “heal, heal, little frog’s tail.” This expression is commonly used in many Latino communities to offer consolation when one, specifically a child, has fallen or gotten hurt. The phrase continues with “if you don’t heal today, you will heal tomorrow.” At its core this message is meant to offer relentless encouragement, that while we may be suffering today, things will get better tomorrow.