The Auroran Today

The Student News Site of Muscatine High School

The Auroran Today

The Auroran Today

The Importance of Suicide Prevention Month

“There is no shame or weakness in asking for help. You make a difference in this world. Please stay.”

Suicide prevention month is the month of September. In recent years, honoring this month has become more prevalent and it is very special to some, specifically to someone who may have lost a loved one to suicide or who has suffered their own battle with their mental health. An individual who knows this all too well is Alma Brunson who lost her daughter to suicide at the age of 16. 

“I am glad that September is recognized as suicide prevention month. You can’t ignore one of the leading causes of death. I see people are united in making a difference,” Alma said,  “Posting encouraging and informational posts on social media. Participating in walks and fundraisers. My hope is that someone who is struggling sees they are not alone. Or if they have suicidal ideation, they might stop and think twice before taking their life.”

Suicide is a topic that is often joked about, especially among teenagers. It is the third leading cause of death among young people and adults in the United States. Alma wants everyone to know that someone will fight for them to stay. 

“I like to remind people that you don’t need to be a professional to just listen with an empathic ear. A nonjudgmental ear,” Alma said, “ You don’t need to have the perfect words or magic words. You can simply sit in silence with someone. Let them know their feelings are valid. They are seen and they matter.”

In 2018, the Iowa Legislature passed Senate File 2113 requiring protocols and school employee training relating to suicide prevention, skills to identify difficult childhood experiences, and strategies to alleviate toxic stress response.

Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) is an 8-hour course with the intent of teaching parents, family members, teachers, school staff, neighbors, and other caring adults about the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents. It also teaches the importance of early intervention, and how to help an adolescent experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis. The course is focused on information participants can use to help youth ages 12-18. 

“It is my passion to raise suicide awareness in the schools. From preschool through college.” Alma said, “If we can equip children with the tools to help them cope. Or give them resources to find assistance with barriers to education and food insecurity. We are making an impact. But I don’t want to forget the administrators, staff, and educators. They too are affected by many of the same issues.” 

A few years after their daughter’s death Alma and her husband Brian Brunson started a fund with the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine to assist those in need with mental illnesses, especially youth, to fund transportation, counseling, and other expenses. In some cases, the price can be the reason that someone doesn’t get help. The name of their campaign is Micaela’s Hope.

Alma, Brian, and their daughter posing with a Micaela’s Hope sign.

“When I see someone wearing a Micaela’s Hope shirt or wristband. It makes me smile knowing this has become a symbol of hope. Of help, of change,” Alma said, “And that she continues to make a ripple effect that grows. It grows every time we share her.”

988 is a suicide and crisis lifeline with over 200 crisis centers in the US that allow access to a toll-free hotline. Once you are connected, a trained crisis counselor listens to you and works to understand how your problem is affecting you and making you feel. It allows the caller to feel supported and learn of resources that may help them.

“Micaela was so much more than the way she died. But it is important that we discuss it. So I like to always end with this message. If you are struggling with your thoughts. If you are going through dark times. Please, please reach out and ask for help. There is no shame or weakness in asking for help. You make a difference in this world. Please stay,” said Alma. 

View Comments (1)
Donate to The Auroran Today

Your donation will support the student journalists of Muscatine High School . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Emma Steele
Emma Steele, Writer
Emma Steele is a sophomore at MHS. This is her first year writing for The Auroran Today. If she is not writing stories she may be spending time with her family, drinking Diet Coke, arguing with someone about their opinion, or watching all of her favorite sports.
Donate to The Auroran Today

Comments (1)

All The Auroran Today Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • C

    Connie KeitelOct 5, 2023 at 11:26 am

    Very informative article, Emma. Thank you for including how people can get help. This is heartbreaking, but I’m glad her family is turning this into something positive. The library staff usually puts up a suicide awareness book display every September.