September was Suicide Prevention Month, and Chatham High School organized a variety of programs and actions designed to raise awareness about suicide and mental health. 

Student Assistance Counselors Lisa Lattarulo and Christine Mahoney posted announcements and spearheaded actions for students and teachers during September to help the school community better understand the warning signs for suicide. 

Lattarulo and Mahoney distributed yellow ribbons to students and staff and encouraged the CHS community to wear the ribbons during September to show their support for suicide prevention.

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On Saturday, September 21st, the Chatham High School Cougar Team participated in the Out of the Darkness Walk at Cougar Field, hosted by Chatham Township. 

“The Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk was a moving and memorable experience that brought attention to a very serious mental health issue," Mahoney said. "It created awareness, which is very important in order to support those who have experienced a loss and also to encourage others to seek help when needed. We had a very good turnout; the event was well organized, and it was successful in raising funds necessary for mental health awareness.”

Mahoney, like other CHS staff members, brought her family to the event. Ryan Mahoney, her spouse, said, “It was a fantastic experience and my first time going. I went with my wife, my one-year-old and my in-laws. I would attend this event year after year, as it was for such a great cause.”

Warning signs people should be aware of include withdrawal from friends and family, hopelessness, isolation, and changes in behavior, including increased drug or alcohol use. 

Lattarulo and Ms. Mahoney shared with students that one out of five people experience a serious mental health issue in their lifetime and that suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people living in New Jersey. They also shared that there are ways to get support and help. Students can talk to a counselor or other adult, or they can text 741741 to talk to a counselor. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is posted at CHS for students to see on the lobby display: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), as is their website suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Mostly, though, the message to students at CHS was this: Chatham High School values each and every person in our community, and teachers, counselors, and other staff members are ready and willing to be a listening ear for any student who feels alone and wants to talk.