Returning to the classroom or opening school doors for the first time for kindergarteners and first-graders can be intimidating and, for many, can mean the introduction to new emotions, challenges and issues to be confronted.
Regardless of age, each student attending classes in Wilson County this year will likely face situations at some point that will test their resilience, challenge their values and their ability to make positive decisions.
These instances may include a temptation to look at a neighboring student's test paper for unwarranted help on an important exam; resisting the urge by friends to try marijuana, smoke a cigarette or sample an alcoholic beverage; or being faced with a seriously threatening case of bullying.
Each of these situations pose circumstances that could influence in a most deteriorating way the life of a student as it is today and how that life may develop in the future.
Sampling tobacco or alcohol for the first time or experimenting with marijuana or perhaps a prescription pharmaceutical found in the medicine cabinet at home can easily be the first steps to changing one's life forever.
These seemingly innocent introductions may serve as only the premieres for repeat performances that eventually find a path to substance abuse and addiction and consequences that so often lead to a failure in physical health, bouts with severe depression and, even worse, attempted suicide or suicide.
Suicide has been a leading cause for death among teens in Tennessee for a number of years and, as recently as last year, suicide was claimed as the second-leading cause of death in the Volunteer State for ages 10 to 19.
Often, attempted suicides and suicides at such young ages can be tracked to states of depression caused by a failed relationship, a loss of self-esteem due to aggressive teasing or bullying by others and the continual use of drugs.
The lives of our young people are important.
Are you as a parent, teacher or friend prepared to recognize these troubling times for the one you love or care for, and do you know where to go and what next steps may be necessary to provide for this person the help he or she deserves?
We urge you to be watchful for changes in dispositions, attitudes, social activities, study habits, friends or peer associations and other patterns or trends that may be the first signal or signals that a youth is struggling and needs your help.
For more information about these topics or how you may help someone deal with substance abuse, addiction, depression or other behavioral issues, please call Volunteer Behavioral Health Care, the non-profit parent of your local community mental health provider, at 1-877-567-6051 or visit www.vbhcs.org.