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Expanded suicide prevention training is time well spent

Posted: October 25, 2012 - 2:02pm

The numbers are alarming — the suicide rate for Alaskans ages 15-24 was 46 per 100,000 people in 2010, well above the national average. And even with those numbers in mind, we’re startled by the response to this week’s Clarion poll question, which asks readers if they or somebody they know have ever contemplated suicide. More than 80 percent of respondents answered yes.

While our poll is not scientific, what it tells us is that suicide is an issue that, at some time or another, will affect nearly every member of our community.

Indeed, comments from high school counselors bear that out. During a recent training session, staff at Soldotna High School shared personal stories on the subject.

“We let the teachers discuss experiences in their lives; people who had either committed or talked about committing (suicide),” Erin Neisinger, Soldotna High School counselor, told the Clarion. “And walking around the room listening to the conversations, there were a lot stories about students or friends … who had affected their lives.”

The school district’s expanded training is the result of legislation passed last session requiring at least two hours of training for school personnel who work with middle- and high-school students. It includes an appropriation of $450,000 toward school-based suicide prevention efforts.

Sen. Bettye Davis, of Anchorage, who sponsored the legislation, said the bill would help reduce the “silent epidemic” of youth suicide through educational and awareness programs. According to Neisinger, people aren’t always comfortable addressing suicide with students. The goal of the training is to give school staff more skills and confidence to talk about the issue with students, to say something, adding to protocols the district already has in place.

If just one educator is able to make a connection with just one student, to steer a student in a different direction, then the two hours of training and funding to support it will have been money well spent.

But we hope that in raising suicide awareness, and in giving school staff more tools to help, the impact will be far greater. As we said, suicide will, at some time or another, touch nearly every one of us.

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northernlights 10/26/12 - 11:02 am
Nothing but a bandaid

People always try to fix a problem by working on the outside in. the problem isnt suicide, thier problems are on the inside. It reminds me of abuse awareness, what is the profit of being aware when you cannot do a dang thing about it? these kids who are molested, verbaly and physicaly abused, unwanted and so on, these kids want to kill themselves because of thier lousy no good life. Why cant money be spent on training teachers to tell kids of all ages, starting with kindergarten, tell them what isnt appropriate behavior or touching, tell them what verbal abuse is, verbal abuse scars the heart where no one sees. Drug addict parents who scream and yell at thier kids. Oh often I have call Child protection only for them to do nothing!! They go to thier home, look around, talk to the parents and say, everything is ok here and leave. Abusers and molesters are sneaky, lying, dirty minded people, and they will make sure no one knows what they are doing behind closed doors. Try giving these kids a number to call, a person who they can talk to and get help! these kids, if they live through it, will grow up to be abusers themselves. Sad thing, if you tried to teach this in school you will no doubt have parents crying out loud saying teachers shouldnt be doing that, its up to the parents! What a crock, like the abuser is going to teach thier child. Suicide prevention will do nothing except float someones ego for coming up with it. Just like abuse awareness. nothing. I dare anyone try to call and turn in an abuser to save a child. It wont work!!!!!!!!!!!! by the time they have enough layers of paperwork, the child has grown and left. I welcome any and all answers to saving or helping abused kids. dont give me a number, they dont work. Give me an answer. Besides going in myself and taking them away from the parent and going to jail. Suicide, geeze by the time a kid gets close to that, its almost to late, damage done.

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