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Nampa event will discuss resources to prevent youth suicide

Suicide is a very complex issue, but prevention is possible. The training takes one to two hours, and individuals can go at their own pace.

NAMPA, Idaho — This story was originally published in the Idaho Press

An event in Nampa this week will help equip parents to prevent teen suicides.

The event, “Preventing a Crisis: Straight Talk on Youth Mental Health and Suicide,” will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday at the Brandt Center Auditorium at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa. The Idaho Press is one of the event’s sponsors.

The adults-only event will include speakers such as local school district officials, mental health experts, and a parent whose child died by suicide several years ago who will offer resources for parents, said Janelle Stauffer, one of the event’s organizers.

The event comes as three teens enrolled in the Nampa School District have died by suicide in the last six to eight weeks, Stauffer said. She has two children in the district and is also a trauma therapist who is part of the district’s trauma response network. The group is tasked with helping the district’s crisis response team in times of need, she said.

Though the data does not indicate that the total number of youth suicides is rising, the short time period in which they occurred is motivating the community to get ahead of the issue, Stauffer said.

“So that’s what has prompted us to create this event — to provide resources to parents hoping that we can kind of go up the river and catch any problems and support families as best we can right now.”

Suicide is a very complex issue, but prevention is possible. Providing mental health education, promoting conversations to end the stigma, and advocating for those who struggle with mental illness, and the families and friends of those who struggle, are all avenues for helping prevent suicide, according to the mission of the Speedy Foundation, a Boise-based suicide prevention organization.

Idahoans have access to a free Idaho Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper training that uses a process called “question, persuade, and refer,” to talk to youth and others about suicide, said Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra.

The training takes one to two hours, and individuals can go at their own pace. When Ybarra completed it, she felt more empowered, she said.

One analogy presented in the training is that if you have a heart attack in public, you are likely to survive because the public will intervene, Ybarra said. Now, it’s necessary to give more people the training and know-how to prevent suicide, Ybarra said.

“We need folks who can access a resource who can intervene and give our students around the state that feeling of connectedness and resilience and know how to help someone if they are under stress,” Ybarra said. 

Wednesday’s event is a good starting point for community members to learn more, said Gregg Russell, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning for the Nampa School District and one of the event’s panelists.

“I hope folks will come to the event and feel welcome,” Russell said “... I hope people come willing to listen and learn and feel encouraged that there are resources to reach out and support them.”

Concerns for youth mental health has become a topic of national interest in recent years given the challenges facing younger generations, including the added stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic. In early December, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy published a report about youth mental health that noted an increase in reports of depression and anxiety among youth, as well as emergency room visits related to suicide attempts and mental health issues, according to the New York Times.

Historically, Idaho has ranked in the top 10 states for suicide rates, said Chris Wilson, project manager for the Idaho Violent Death Reporting System, which tracks data on suicides and other deaths occurring as a result of force, such as homicide. Funded by the CDC, the state began tracking such deaths through the program in 2018, Wilson said. The state has up to 18 months after the end of a year to finalize data from that year, he said. There is preliminary data available for 2020, and the data is expected to be finalized in July 2022, he said.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. 

Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline

24/7 support for people in crisis, and their families and friends.

Call: 800-273-8255

Text: 208-398-4357

Warning signs of suicide

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

What to Do

  • Don't leave the person alone
  • Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs, or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt
  • Call the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255
  • Take the person to an emergency room, or seek help from a medical or mental health professional

This story was originally published in the Idaho Press. Read more at IdahoPress.com

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