News from UMatter: Suicide Prevention Month and Fall Programming

UMatter’s mission is to build community, friendship, and support for isolated teens by instilling within them an appreciation for their inherent and wholesome value, says Rabbi Yarden Blumstein, director of teen programming at Friendship Circle. This September is Suicide Prevention Month, and UMatter has found unique ways to engage with teens while remaining socially distant.

Read more below in a Q&A with Rabbi Yarden on how UMatter is participating in Suicide Prevention Month and how teens can get involved with UMatter this fall:

Q: What is suicide prevention month?

A: It is a month focused on raising the bar in regards to suicide awareness and prevention. It is not the only month that we need to focus on suicide prevention and it is not the highest suicide concern month. It is an opportunity for us to better our approach, knowledge, training, and processes in regards to suicide prevention.

Q: Why is it important to discuss teen mental health right now, during a pandemic?

A: The pandemic has changed everything in regards to our social infrastructure. From not being able to get an in-person therapy appointment to not getting social touchpoints, to the vast amounts of uncertainty and insecurity, there are a lot of new pressures and fears without the old coping tools available.

Also, without the regular check-ins that naturally happen when people are out and about, it’s harder to know when someone is struggling until it really peaks.

Q: What is UMatter doing in acknowledgment of suicide prevention month?

A: We ran a story-sharing campaign where people sent us a few lines from their journey and we posted it as a series on the UMatter Instagram. People really liked that. We are also relaunching our teen support program, Teen Talks, and are in the process of launching a new peer-to-peer program.

Additionally, we are hosting our benchmark UMatter Week at Cranbrook, an essential UMatter program for high schools and middle schools to highlight teen mental health, suicide prevention, and resiliency. It includes a variety of programs that will be adapted for COVID-19 such as a virtual guest speaker, an art project, hallway decorating and video making.

Q: What will UMatter look like this Fall? How can teens get involved?

A: Socially distant suicide prevention training is a must during this challenging time, and we are hoping to give the training to teens over the coming months. Our Teen Talks program will be back both socially distant at Friendship Circle and virtually on Zoom. Our peer to peer program is available for all teens looking to give and get support. We are also hosting both virtual events and socially distant events. For teens that want to create and launch their own initiative, we are providing fellowship opportunities that will support the teen’s creativity and spirit.

To get involved, contact Amanda Smith at [email protected] To learn more about UMatter, visit friendshipcircle.org/umatter.

For media inquiries, please contact Melanie Barnett at [email protected].
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