Spokane teen wants to bring more suicide and mental health awareness to school

Earlier this year, 16-year-old Jackie Smith stood in front of a crowd at a suicide prevention concert and read a poem she wrote.

“You notice how much better it feels to stay home, crying, in bed rather than go out to some party being thrown by the ‘coolest’ guy in school,” the poem reads. “Because even though you're crying, you're alone.”

It was later that night that Smith decided she wanted to dedicate more time to bringing awareness to suicide and mental health in her own school.

“We have a lot of mental health problems and mental health isn’t properly addressed as I think it should be,” said Smith. “This is a really important topic and I want to be more involved in this more and I want to help other people.”

So Smith, who is involved with “Life Rocks,” a group that promotes suicide prevention and awareness, got the idea to bring a large event to Rogers High School.

The event, which Smith calls a con, would include guest speakers, live music, and resources about mental health and suicide.

“My family and I, we have a history of mental health,” said Smith. “I have friends who know people who have committed suicide.”

So Smith started collecting signatures with the hopes of getting the schools’ attention.

“I made a petitions with 100 signatures and I gained 100 signatures within two days,” said Smith. “I know I had the support I needed, but not form the one person I needed to get things started immediately.”

That person: Rogers High School Principal, Lori Wyborney.

“I love kids who wants to be socially active, are you kidding me? That’s what this world needs more of,” said Wyborney. “That is probably the most beautiful thing in the world because peer-to-peer is a very strong relationship.”

Wyborney loved Smith’s idea, but had just one reservation.

“My hesitation has always been, you put 1,500 students ranging from 14 to18-years-old in a gym, how is that message received?” said Wyborney. “How do we help kids process that, how do we help teachers process that with students.”

Wyborney says she met with school counselors to come up with a plan. For now, she says they will bring in suicide prevention and awareness groups to talk with students and teachers in smaller venues.

Wyborney says they will consider having a large event in the future, depending on how students respond to the smaller events.

Smith has also taken her idea to the Spokane Public School District, who plans on meeting with her in the coming days. 

Recommended for you