Harmful behavior addressed at Astoria Middle School


By Sue Cody


“This community is crying out for help,” says Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare (CBH) Child and Family Program Supervisor Arden Bryce.


CBH is working with Astoria Middle School (AMS) students and parents after it became apparent several students were harming themselves and having suicidal thoughts.


Bryce says she saw patterns of suicidal ideation at AMS after counselors and teachers reported non-suicide harmful behaviors, such as students cutting themselves. Other students were contemplating suicide.


On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, April 11-13, Lines for Life and CBH are working with students and parents at AMS. Lines for Life is a nonprofit that is devoted to prevention of substance abuse and suicide. The goal is to encourage students to seek help if they are worried about themselves or others.


Age appropriate information will be provided to AMS students during the day. For instance, sixth-graders will learn about how to handle peer pressure and bullying, and eighth-graders will learn more about stress management, Bryce says.


“We want students to understand what they are feeling and provide them with strategies for dealing with their concerns,” reads a letter sent home with AMS students.


Youth M.O.V.E. (Motivating Others through Voices of Experience) Oregon will be there to assist students. The youth-run organization focuses on helping youths, 14 to 25, transition to adulthood through peer support.


From 6:30 to 8 p.m. parent forums are being held at the school, the same night as the students are engaged. The schedule is sixth-graders on Monday, seventh-graders on Tuesday and eighth-graders on Wednesday. Childcare is available.


“We hope to raise awareness for parents of young children who could be depressed enough to harm themselves,” Bryce says. There is still a stigma attached to mental health and many are resistant to working with clinicians, she says. CBH would like to change that.


On May 5 a mental health fair is planned.


“It is important to talk about mental health wellness,” Bryce says. “You can get better.”


To arrange for emergency screening if a child is suicidal or self harming, call CBH at 503-325-0241. The Lines for Life crisis line is 800-273-8255.