BROOKVILLE — Retired orthopedic surgeon Brian Ceccarelli recently visited Brookville Local schools to talk to students about suicide and bullying.
Ceccarelli, founder of the organization It’sTime2!, told the students that he was “going to go out on a limb and say this is going to be one of the most impactful, powerful, meaningful presentations that you have been exposed to.”
“Our goal is to raise awareness of mental health and maybe break down the stigma that’s associated with it and kind of emphasis how important it is to be nice to each other and understand that we are all going through things in our lives maybe people don’t even know about,” Ceccarelli said.
“Hopefully by the time you leave this room you may have a different outlook on how we treat each other,” Ceccarelli continued.
Ceccarelli told the students that mental health is a significant issue among their age group.
“It is apparent mental health is an issue among your age group when you see things on TV that say over a million young people go to the emergency room every year for mental health issues,” Ceccarelli said.
“A total of 20 percent of teens committed self harm. That’s one out of five,” Ceccarelli pointed out.
Ceccarelli also noted 20 percent of high school teenagers report serious thoughts of suicide and that nine percent of young people attempted suicide.
“Last year over 5,000 young people took their lives by suicide, “ Ceccarelli said, adding that suicide is the second leading cause of death among this age group.
Ceccarelli noted, however, mental health isn’t a topic that receives much attention.
“I don’t think we give it enough thought. We just go on everyday and deal with our emotions and struggles We talk about things like Covid, but we don’t talk about mental health as much as we should,” Ceccarelli said.
“I hope when you leave here you will recognize this is a big deal and there are things that we can do,” Ceccarelli told the students.
Ceccarelli said one area that can create mental health issues for a student is being judged by fellow students.
“One of the things we found out from students that most of them were being judged by their peers,” Ceccarelli said.
“People are being judged on social media. They are being cyber-bullied. We should all look at being less judgmental,” Ceccarelli said
To illustrate his point, he compared people to icebergs.
“About 35 percent of that iceberg sits above the water level and 65 percent that sits below that water level,” Ceccarelli said.
“I’d like to think we’re all like this iceberg. There are things we allow people in our lives to see and they know and think that they know and there’s that 65 percent that’s under that surface that people really don’t know. There are things we are dealing with that they don’t know,” Ceccarelli continued.
“I think we would all feel more comfortable that when we come to school thinking that everybody here, even though you may not agree with everybody, we can all be less judgmental toward each other and understand we’re different and that’s OK,” Ceccarelli said.
Ceccarelli also offered suggestions to students who are being bullied.
“The rule of thumb is if you get bullied, you need to tell an adult,” Ceccarelli said
“Nobody here should ever be bullied,” he continued.
Ceccarelli offered suggestions to help students cope whenever an issue causes them to become upset.
“There are a number of ways to cope with things. Some like to keep journals. Some like to listen to music or go out into nature. Each of you need to find a way to cope when you get upset or feeling down about things,” Ceccarelli said.
Ceccarelli also suggested that students identify an individual they can go to for help.
Ceccarelli called that person an “MVP” (Most Valuable Person).
Ceccarelli said having a MVP when he was a teenager prevented him from following through with an action that would have forever changed his life.
“I challenge you to select your MVP,” Ceccarelli told the students.
“Think about that person that’s in your life. It may be your mom or dad, a teacher, a counselor, a clergy person or a coach. Whoever you identify go to them if you ever need help and say ‘can I talk to you,’” Ceccarelli said.
Reach Terry Baver at (937) 833-2545 or via email at [email protected]
By Terry Baver [email protected]