The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

Staff Spotlight
Lexi Thurman
Lexi Thurman
Staff Reporter

Lexi Thurman is a senior new to Sage Creek and is a staff reporter for The Sage. She enjoys listening to live music, playing guitar, and spending time in nature.

September Brings Suicide Awareness to Carlsbad Citizens

-TW: This article details violence and accounts of suicide-
Across from the Carlsbad station, multiple signs are posted detailing the suicide prevention lifeline phone number to those at the station. This photo presents one of the lifelines, the more commonly referred to number is 988 for those in crisis.
Photo By Georgia Scherrer
Across from the Carlsbad station, multiple signs are posted detailing the suicide prevention lifeline phone number to those at the station. This photo presents one of the lifelines, the more commonly referred to number is 988 for those in crisis.

Since 2008, September has been recognized as National Suicide Prevention Month for millions of people in the United States. More specifically, in Carlsbad, California, individuals are speaking out about their experiences with suicide and the recent events that have led to these conversations.

Most recently, on the night of Sept. 13, a pedestrian was reportedly struck and killed by a San Diego Amtrak train. He was taken to the hospital, however, he sadly did not survive his injuries. 

“Crime Stoppers and the San Diego Police Department are pleading with citizens to call with any viable information regarding the man who was struck on Sept. 13. Call (888) 580-8477 with information.”

Before this incident took place, three individuals were struck and killed by commuter trains in Carlsbad over Labor Day weekend, after KPBS reported fatalities and increased suicides near and around trains have doubled in the last year alone. Two of the individuals that were struck survived; however, the third victim succumbed to her injuries soon after and has not yet been confirmed a suicide. 

However, these deaths are not the only suspected suicides to take place in San Diego during the summer, and leading into September. Stanley Middle School student Salvador Rios committed suicide after being cyberbullied by fellow students for being gay on Aug. 15. He was only 14 years old.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, “Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 24 in the U.S. Nearly 20% of high school students report serious thoughts of suicide and 9% have attempted to take their lives.” 

Although teenagers do not have the highest overall rate of suicidal thoughts or tendencies in the United States, the threat that suicide poses to students and teenagers within social groups is growing disproportionately. 

The Carlsbad Village Station provides riders with roughly 30 trips per day ranging from Oceanside to the San Diego depot. The Coaster transports about 2,000 people per weekday and more on the weekends. (Georgia Scherrer)

Sage Creek High School psychologist Dr. Bob Boeckman spoke on why teenagers may be more inclined to potentially harm themselves after the increased occurrences of violence in San Diego. 

“As far as rates of death, [suicide] is a very significant cause for teenagers and there’s so much turmoil within kids and they’re not in full control of their own lives and a lot of times you have extraneous circumstances that affect them severely on top of schooling,” Boeckman said.

High schoolers, however, also have an ample list of resources on campus that they can get in touch with and ask for support if they need it before, during and after school. 

The first line of defense is the teachers. I think [administration] does a good job of educating the teachers about the warning signs and to be aware of similar things,” Boeckman said. “I think there’s a real focus on building relationships with students and making sure that no student is left behind, and that everyone has a trusted adult that they can identify on campus. I don’t think we’re there yet completely, but I think there’s efforts to achieve that.”

Boeckman continued to list different ways to get help if students or administrators need support. Counselors, Wellness Together, the National Suicide Hotline, safety resource officers staged on campus and teachers are all encouraged and trained to listen, talk and offer extended support to students. 

These resources are not only available to those harboring suicidal thoughts or tendencies. They are also able to those who have a history of loss or possibly witness accounts of suicide. Sage Creek junior Donovan Hiersche has two vivid memories of suicide taking place at the Carlsbad Coaster station.

Hiersche can recount both events readily, even though the events took place in the last two years, while he was 15 and 16 years old. Regarding the first incident, he said, “We were waiting by the train tracks and the train came by and we saw a person jump in front of the train. I believe it was a man, and after that, I saw his leg amputated on the side.” 

The second incident was much less graphic but still traumatic. “We were first in a line of traffic in front of the train tracks when the gate arms came down, and we saw the train, and then all of a sudden we saw a woman purposefully walk onto the tracks as the train was coming forward and got hit,” Hiersche said. 

Hiersche personally believes in the power and strength of speaking about suicide and ensuring that students specifically know that there are resources in place for them. 

“I think it’s important for students to know about suicide. First to know about the things that are happening surrounding suicide, and second who they should talk to and the resources they have to help if they have those thoughts. I think it’s a subject that’s harder to talk about, but necessary,” Hiersche said.

Multiple precautions are taken on the Coaster railroad in order to prevent accidents from occurring. These precautions include crossing arms, multiple approach alarms, signals involving lights and multiple ‘DANGER’ warning signs. (Georgia Scherrer)

Schools are not the only organizations that are dedicating their time and resources in September to educating others. The North County Transit District (NCTD) wants to prevent suicides and other incidents from taking place as they move forward. 

Karen Harris, the NCTD’s Chief of Safety and Risk Management, provided information about how the NCTD plans to confront incidents in the future. 

“We are currently embarking on putting up new signs on our sprinter line,” Harris said. “The new ones will incorporate the new 988 number. It’s an easier nationwide number for people to get help. So we’re proud of that, and we hope to have that done later this year.” 

Harris continued to note that the NCTD’s involvement with law enforcement will help to encourage safe practices as well:  “We also have partners with our police departments and sheriff’s departments around the areas. So when we have cameras in certain places on the side when we see that there are some people playing on the bridges or the right away on the tracks we will call and have police enforce those areas.”

The North County Transit District has paired with Operation Lifesaver, a rail safety initiative, where the two programs are currently enforcing a “Rail Safety Month” and more specifically Rail Safety Week taking place Sept. 18-24. By bringing to light the severity of train-related incidents and the impact of train-related suicide, both corporations hope to reach citizens effectively. 

As for the rest of the world, there is one prominent thing that individuals can do to ensure suicide is addressed. The hope is to talk about it openly and honestly. 

Both the Mayo Health Clinic and the National Institute of Health debunked the notion that talking about suicide makes it more likely to happen. Although suicidal thoughts and tendencies have a “domino effect” in certain extreme cases, for the most part, talking about suicide with factual evidence and honest conversation is the best-proven way to confront it and potentially save a life.  

I think death and especially with young people, it’s just it’s hard for everyone to process and we’re afraid of it. And so we just want to kind of ignore it and put our hands heads in the sand and not talk about it. But I don’t think that’s helpful,” Boeckman said.

If someone is unable or apprehensive to speak with a trusted official, turning to friends and family is another opportunity. No matter what the fear, anxiety, or negative thoughts may be, talking to someone may be the difference between life and death – the same message goes for listening.

“I see a lot of supportive students here, and I see a lot of kids taking care of each other,” Boeckman acknowledged. “There’s a lot we can learn about how to help other people, how to help ourselves, and how to seek help. I think reaching out and talking–that’s our number one resource really.”

“If you or someone you know are dealing with thoughts or ideas of suicide call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at SMS 988 which is available 24 hours. Wellness Together, Better Help, and other online services are also available across different states.”

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  • J

    Jacob DoughertySep 21, 2023 at 8:59 am The Sage Pick

    Thank you for sharing this important information

    • A

      Alex JethmalSep 22, 2023 at 10:10 am

      This is cool article!!