Suicide prevention measure advances

 Suicide prevention measure advances

Genesee lawmaker sponsored bill that draws wide support

By WILLIAM L. SPENCE, Lewiston Tribune

BOISE - A bill that helps advance suicide prevention training in Idaho schools received the unanimous and enthusiastic support of the House Education Committee on Tuesday. "This is probably one of the most important bills of the entire session, quite honestly," said Rep. Paul Amador, R-Coeur d'Alene. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Caroline Troy, R-Genesee, directs the State Board of Education to work with the Department of Health and Welfare and suicide experts to develop suicide awareness and prevention training material for local school districts. "This bill focuses on 'gatekeeper' training," Troy said. "It's not just for teachers, but for lunchroom personnel, the janitors, bus drivers - anyone who interacts with students. For those schools that have been touched by suicide, I think there's a desperation to learn how to recognize the signs." Annika Klein, a sophomore at the College of Idaho, said she's alive today because a high school teacher took the time to ask how she was doing. "I was a suicidal teen," she said. "I lost all motivation after losing someone close. Out of my seven teachers, one noticed the changes in me. He called my parents and voiced his concerns. I'm so thankful he did." Her other teachers weren't uncaring, Klein said. They just didn't recognize the signs. "He did because he went through it with his own child," she said. Troy, who serves on the Idaho Suicide Prevention Council, noted that Idaho typically ranks in the Top 10 nationally for per-capita suicide. It's an issue at virtually every level of society: Between 2012 and 2016, she said, 105 Idaho school kids committed suicide, including 27 younger than age 15. The state recently implemented a peer-to-peer suicide awareness and prevention program called Sources of Strength. However, it's only available in about two dozen school districts. "I've heard great things about the program, but it's not getting out there fast enough," Troy said. "In thinking about how to reach more districts quicker, we developed this bill." The training material developed or approved by the Board of Education can be made available to teachers, administrators and classified staff as part of their professional development activities or in-service training programs. Troy said she's also spoken with districts that want to include the material on their own websites as a community resource. The bill directs each public school district to adopt policies to address such issues as suicide prevention, intervention and counseling, so employees aren't left wondering what to do if they suspect a student is considering suicide. "This is a heartbreaking issue for a lot of administrators, teachers and staff," said Rob Winslow, executive director of the Idaho Association of School Administrators. No one testified in opposition to the bill. It now goes to the House floor for a vote.

The Crisis Textline looks at: Financial Issues

The Crisis Textline looks at: Financial Issues

How many: About 5% of our conversations include financial issues.
Who: These texters tend to be older - 74% are over the age of 18.
Where: We see more conversations about finances in these green states. Top 3 are ID, NV, FL.
When: These convos peak right before the workday (6am-8am EST) and we see 20% more than average during the Summer.
How: The top 10 unique words that texters use in these conversations are:
1. Money
2. Problem
3. Pain
4. Live
5. Week
6. Hope
7. Pay
8. Night
9. Sleep
10. Job

Tips & Tricks:
Ask smart questions. Typically, the most effective questions are “How” questions. In convos about financial issues, “where” questions are #1.

Our favorite examples include:
"Where do you feel most effective in your day?”
"Where do you see yourself being most successful?”
"Where would you like to be in 5 years?”

Don’t drag it out. Conversations about financial concerns spanning 48 minutes have a 94% quality rating. After that, quality ratings flatten. And quality drops after the 90-minute mark.

It’s tempting to have longer convos with texters in financial crisis, because we can’t solve their root problem. We ask our CCs to stick to the 5 stages of a convo to keep convos an appropriate length.

Underlying concern. The phrases texters use most often tell us that their #1 worry is how financial issues will affect their families. We ask our CCs to keep this in mind as they explore the issue. (Identify the strength and caring the texter is expressing. Validate their right to care for themselves, too: they may be afraid of sounding selfish.)

Feeling Words. One emotion these texters feel most often is “exhausted.” CCs can add words like “exhausted/ing,” “weary,” and “worn down” to your arsenal of feeling words as a way to effectively paraphrase and reflect.

Lawmakers promote youth suicide prevention with school gatekeeper bill

Lawmakers promote youth suicide prevention with school gatekeeper bill

By: Marissa Morrison, KIVI News 6

Video News Coverage Here

BOISE, Idaho - Idaho lawmakers are tackling the serious issue of youth suicide prevention with House Bill 634.

The legislation introduced by Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, R-Genesee, provides suicide awareness and prevention training for all public school personnel. 

"It's focused on gatekeeper training, so, not just on teachers, but on those in the lunch room, the janitors, the bus drivers, anybody who has an interaction with a student," Troy said. 

The legislation allows school districts to adopt a suicide prevention policy and choose an evidence-based gatekeeper program to implement based on the needs of their district. 

Troy said costs will be minimal as many gatekeeper programs are available from a number of sources at no cost to school districts.

Annika Klein, 20, testified in favor of the bill. Klein said a teacher in her high school saved her life. 

"I was a suicidal teenager," Klein said. "I lost all motivation after losing someone close to me."

Klein said a male teacher noticed her change in behavior and pulled her aside. 

"He asked me why I wasn't how I used to be," Klein said. "He asked me how he could help, and he asked me how I've been feeling. For the first time, an authority other than my mother had validated my feelings and made me feel important. Even though it was one teacher out of seven, it was enough and made me feel like I wasn't so alone anymore."

According to the Suicide Action Prevention Network of Idaho, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Idahoans age 15-34. Between 2012 and 2016, 105 Idaho school children died by suicide, 27 of those children were age 14 or younger.

"I want people to recognize the signs of somebody who's just really struggling and not only be able to recognize the signs but give them the resources and help that they need to get better," Klein said. 

The bill passed out of the House Education Committee on a unanimous voice vote and heads to the full House for approval. 

"I think it's probably one of the most important bills of the entire session," Rep. Paul Amador, R-Coeur d'Alene, said. 

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free, confidential service that can provide people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, or those around them, with support, information and local resources. If you are struggling, do not hesitate to reach out to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Idaho Suicide Prevention Aims to Receive Breakthrough Legislation in Boise Wednesday

Idaho Suicide Prevention Aims to Receive Breakthrough Legislation in Boise Wednesday

By: Kekeluv, 103.5 Kiss FM

Advocates arrive in Boise on Wednesday to encourage their legislative leaders to pass, "Empowering Schools in Suicide Prevention."

Idaho ranks 48 for assistance funding mental health programs and suicide prevention opportunities. Fund programs like these are imperative considering Idaho ranks 2nd in leading causes of death for ages 10-44.

Wednesday could be a very important piece when trying to erase those high numbers. Advocates arrive to spread the message to leaders that we should start saving lives in our schools first. Teachers and friends spend the majority of time with your kids when you really think about it. We need to wrap our arms around the school system to set up a foundation for help before it's out of control.

Changing policy is the first step! Advocates will meet Wednesday to...

  • Share why suicide prevention is important to Idahoans.
  • Educate regarding the work already being done to prevent suicide.
  • Teach legislators to support "Empowering Schools in Suicide Prevention" legislation, based on model legislation known as the Jason Flatt Act.

In 2007, The Jason Flatt Act was first passed in Tennessee and became the nation’s most inclusive and mandatory youth suicide awareness and prevention legislation pertaining to Teacher’s In-Service Training. It required all educators in the state to complete 2 hours of youth suicide awareness and prevention training each year in order to be able to be licensed to teach in Tennessee. There have been 19 states to adopt the JFA since 2007 with some 42 other states to include some sort of training.

The first step to understanding mental health and how to identify this epidemic is training. The Jason Flatt Act would help schools identify students at risk and refer students at risk to a mental health professional for assessment and evaluation.

The Idaho Suicide Prevention Coalition says this life-saving legislation would make a major impact statewide.

The Treasure Valley has seen suicide too many times over the past few years. It was just last year that a student took his life during our annual child abuse prevention campaign. We've had more than enough death in our state lately and something has to change. Want to attend?

Idaho State Capitol Rotunda, 700 W. Jefferson St, Boise, Idaho 83702.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018, from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., lunch 11:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

On coping with loss during the holidays

On coping with loss during the holidays

By Dan Hall, Idaho State Journal

During the holidays we may become especially sensitive to the losses that we have had in our lives which can lead to grief and depression.

The losses that we may encounter are the death of a loved one, a divorce or separation, family problems, loss of a job, financial problems, the loss of a pet, the loss of our health or the health of a loved one, the loss of future expectations or goals among other losses.

Loss and change is something that we all experience in life and the older we become the more losses we will have encountered. When we experience a sense of loss it is because something that we hold dear to us has been taken from our lives. These losses can be especially difficult when we do not expect the loss or it is unforeseen.

Those who are most resilient to loss and change in their lives have found a way to accept and embrace their losses and transform them into hope for the future. The way each of us expresses our loss is unique to us as an individual. We may become depressed, isolate or experience various emotions such as anxiety, fear, anger, guilt, stress, shock, despair or numbness.

Sometimes individuals will turn to alcohol or drugs to try to numb their loss. Substance abuse can numb our emotions and keep us from experiencing the normal grieving process that helps us to work through our grief to eventually heal and gain hope in our lives.

In times of grief and sorrow it is helpful to connect with our spiritual and cultural beliefs that transcend this life and give us hope for the future.

The following principles of transforming grief and loss into hope are taken from a workshop on Transforming Grief and Loss into meaning and hope given by Ligia M. Houben, MA, FT, FAAGC, CPC, CHT.

Houben is the founder of My Meaningful Life, LLC and the executive director of The Center for Transforming Lives in Miami, Florida.

Principle 1: Accept your loss: Acceptance is not being glad about the loss but coming to terms with the reality of the loss.

Principle 2: Live your grief: What we ignore doesn’t cease to exist…it is only repressed. [Ligia M. Houben]

Principle 3: Go deeper into your spiritual dimension: Prayer, Meditation, Sweat, Spiritual readings are nourishment for the soul.

Principle 4: Express your feelings: Find a loving, caring person who you trust and with whom you can confide your heart felt feelings and who will listen carefully and accept where you are at with your emotions without judging you.

Principle 5: Share with others: Share with others your losses and reach out to help others who are experiencing similar losses and grief and focus on helping them.

Principle 6: Take care of yourself: Body, Mind and Spirit. Healing takes time and is unique and individual. Don’t rush the process!

Principle 7: Use Rituals: Draw strength from your spiritual traditions including prayer, meditation, cultural traditions and ceremonies: Sweat, Songs, Traditional Dances and Dress, Drumming, Sun Dance, Oral Histories and Traditions. Keep a journal or make a book of remembrance of the person that you love in order to treasure their teachings and the meaning of their life, and the purpose that you have learned from them. Be grateful for the time you have shared together.

Principle 8: Live the present: The present moment is a gift to be cherished! Don’t dwell on the past. Don’t worry about the future. Live the NOW!

Principle 9: Modify your thoughts: In life we experience difficult situations but everything depends on our response to them. The meaning we give to a loss in our lives is determined by our response to that loss. The loss can help us treasure what is most important and meaningful in our lives. Be grateful for the time that you have spent together rather than to have never known such great love, meaning or purpose in your life.

Principle 10: Rebuild your world: Grieving is the act of affirming and reconstructing a personal world of meaning and hope that is forever transformed. [Robert Neimeyer] Build more meaning, purpose and hope into your life from the new understanding you have gained from the loss that you have experienced.

Principle 11: Visualize the life you want: See yourself a year or two from now contributing to your family, friends and humanity the new meaning, purpose and hope that you have gained through your loss. “Probably you do not choose to suffer, but you can choose the option to transform your suffering into a meaningful life.” [Sameet M. Kumar].

During this holiday season take time to be grateful for all of your relationships — past and present, lessons learned and the spiritual significance of what has been taught and treasure the present!

As you reach out to show love and appreciation for those around you let them know of your gratitude to have them as a part of your life. Take time to treasure your own life and give yourself time to take care of your own spiritual and physical needs for nutrition, rest, exercise and spiritual and social connection.

Laugh, Love and Live the present moment!If you find that your grief and loss exceeds your ability to cope effectively — reach out for help! It is a sign of strength and understanding to ask for help from caring family members, spiritual leaders or a trusted counselor.

There are caring counselors in our community who can assist you with transforming your grief into a more meaningful life filled with hope and purpose for the future.

If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-Talk(8255). Veterans will press “1.”

The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-398-Help(4357) — you can call or text. The Idaho Suicide Prevention Crisis Chat is at

Dan Hall lives in Pocatello. He currently works as a social worker in Fort Hall.

Suicide hotline celebrates five years, launches Crisis Chat

Suicide hotline celebrates five years, launches Crisis Chat

News Bonners Ferry

The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline (ISPH) celebrates five years of continuous operations this week. ISPH launched on November 26, 2012, and has grown steadily ever since, adding shifts to achieve 24/7 phone response in 2014.

ISPH implemented a combined voice and crisis text line, (208) 398-4357 (HELP) in 2016, and will now respond to crisis chats via a web portal, Outside Boise, help is available toll-free at 1-800-273-8255.

Crisis chat response hours will be the same as current crisis text response hours: 3 p.m. to midnight Monday through Friday, with expanded hours as staffing levels permit.

“We are so grateful for the tremendous support and commitment from our community partners, volunteers and staff, allowing ISPH to serve the needs of more Idahoans every year," said hotline Director John Reusser. "We’ve fielded nearly 8,500 crisis contacts this year alone, up from 999 in our first year, and volunteers have contributed over one million dollars' worth of their time staffing the lines since ISPH launched in November 2012.”

Percentage of Idaho high school students with suicidal thoughts on the rise

Percentage of Idaho high school students with suicidal thoughts on the rise

Natalie Shaver, KTVB

BOISE - A recent survey found more than 20 percent of high school students in Idaho have seriously considered suicide.

More than 1,800 high school students across the state participated in a survey done by the State Department of Education. Researchers found since 2009, the percentage of students who have considered suicide has been on the rise. The survey shows in 2017, 21.7 percent of high school students have considered suicide. That's the highest percentage in 10 years.

“A small uptick, but it's going the wrong direction," said Matt McCarter, who’s with the State Department of Education. 

It's a concern for the state department of education, he said, so they use the information collected from these surveys to help. They design programs and trainings to teach educators and students about how to address suicide.

"Sources of Strength is a program that's in about 47 schools right now. We grow every year,” McCarter said. “It really focuses on cultivating resilience, hope, strength and identifying how students can leverage their internal sources of strength that help them get over something challenging or difficult. And how can they be a source of strength to their peers that may be struggling themselves."

The ideal goal is to have a variety of different programs and trainings available to school districts across the state. Even ones that go beyond those in the education system.

"Student contemplation of suicide is not a school issue alone,” he said. “There's more forces at play." How can we leverage families, communities to be just as aware?"

George Austin, who’s with the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline, agrees that it’s united effort. He said getting rid of the stigma that comes along with suicide is a huge factor in making a change.

“The thing about suicide is that it historically has been a taboo subject,” Austin said. “People don't like to talk about it. It's scary. The only way to really be safe from it is to engage in conversations."

He said isolation can play a role in suicidal thoughts, and showing someone they aren't alone can make a difference.

"Make sure that they know that it is safe to talk, and that you're not going to over react,” he said. “For many people who are suicidal it's a relief that they actually get to share that this is something they've been wrestling with."

Austin said it’s important to talk about these issues with your children whether they are showing signs. You can learn more about what those signs are and how to talk to your child here.

Anytime you or someone you know needs to talk, call the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at (208) 398-4357.

Mental Wellness Conference to be hosted at Madison High School

Mental Wellness Conference to be hosted at Madison High School

By Steven Martorana, Rexburg Standard Journal

REXBURG — The second Mental Wellness Conference is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 21, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Madison High School. Madison Memorial Hospital, Brigham Young University-Idaho, Madison School District and EIRMC Behavior Health Center are hosting the event, according to a recent press release from Madison Memorial Hospital.

Six presenters will be in attendance and will speak on several topics, including signs of mental illness, suicide in Idaho, prescription medication abuse, stress and anxiety, grief, loss, distinguishing detrimental coping behaviors and the harmful effects of pornography.

A Community Conversation event will follow the main conference and will be presented by Voice Advocacy and Suicide Prevention Action Network (SPAN) from 1-3 p.m., according to the press release. These group discussions will focus on four areas: risk factors, signs and triggers, community support and resources and resilience and self-direction.

Attendance to the event is free in the hopes that the information provided will allow for a deeper understanding into mental health and what help and resources are available for those struggling with a mental health condition.




The public is invited to attend the second annual Mental Wellness Conference in Rexburg.

Officials from Madison Memorial Hospital, Brigham Young University-Idaho, Madison School District 321 and Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center are holding the event to educate residents about the “mental wellness crisis” sweeping eastern Idaho.

One in four Americans 18 or older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year, according to John Hopkins Medicine.

“This is a crisis situation in our community, and we want to make sure we can help as many people as possible identify the biggest signs of mental illness and how we can deal with them,” Madison Memorial Hospital spokesman Doug McBride said.

The free event takes place from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Madison High School, 2300 University Blvd.

Six presenters will speak about variety of mental illness topics including symptoms, suicide, prescription medication abuse, stress, grief and more.

A roundtable discussion presented by Voice Advocacy and the Suicide Prevention Action Network will follow the conference from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The discussion will focus on four topics, including mental illness risk factors, signs and triggers, community support and resilience.

“This event is not only for those struggling with mental illness, it’s also for individuals who are aware of others who are experiencing these issues,” McBride said.




Community groups plan to hold a roundtable in Rexburg in a week-and-a-half to talk about suicide prevention and helping people struggling with suicidal thoughts.

“We just feel that we’ve had so much of this type of a tragedy in our families and in our communities at large,” said Alethea Cox, chief operating officer of Building Hope Today, a local nonprofit that works to raise awareness of childhood sexual abuse. “I don’t think that there’s a better time than now to have those conversations.”

Other groups that plan to take part include VOICE Advocacy, Rexburg’s Family Crisis Center and Madison Memorial Hospital. Topics that are expected to be discussed include suicide risk factors, signs and triggers, support and resources available in the community and resilience and self-direction, according to the Facebook event listing.

The roundtable will be at 1 p.m. Oct. 21 at Madison High School.

Idaho consistently has one of the highest suicide rates in the country, and eastern Idaho often has a higher suicide rate than some other parts of the state. Idaho had the country’s fifth-highest rate of suicides by population in 2015, according to the state Department of Health and Welfare, and in 2016 Public Health District 6, which includes Pocatello and eight counties in the southeastern corner of the state, had the second-highest rate in the state at 25.2 suicides per 100,000 residents, or 43 people who took their own lives. District 7, which includes Idaho Falls and eight northeastern counties, had the lowest suicide rate in the state in 2016 with 32 suicides, or 14.8 per 100,000, down from third-highest in the state 23.4 per 100,000 the year before.

Cox said she hopes the statistics will help people who attend the roundtable understand how big of a problem suicide is, and also that the event will help people to “see sunlight in terms of solutions, ways we can be better with community support for individuals.”

“I think collaborative efforts, people coming together is always more powerful than one individual trying to do things completely on their own,” she said.