Community holding conversation on mental health, suicide after string of student deaths by suicide

Suicide .jpg
Posted at 1:27 PM, Dec 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 12:49:55-05

CANYON COUNTY, Idaho — Canyon County organizations and government entities are coming together Wednesday evening at Northwest Nazarene University to talk about youth mental health and suicide prevention.

"It just feels like we need to--need to take some action," Aimee Burns, a Nampa School District teacher and parent who lost her son to suicide.

Janelle Stauffer is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and one of the main organizers of the event Wednesday.

"This event came about after we saw a series of youth suicides that happened one after another about two weeks apart each here in Nampa," she said.

Stauffer is also a member of the trauma response network for the Nampa School District. The network is made up of volunteer clinicians who support the school's crisis response team in the case of a mental health emergency.

The team has responded six times so far this school year: three times because of student suicide and three times for other tragic losses in the community.

"In previous years--for as long as the trauma response network has been going, we've responded one to two times a year and this year we've responded way more than that," Stauffer said.

This led Stauffer and other community members to organize a parent meeting with a panel of mental health professionals, law enforcement agents, school officials and Burns.

Preventing a Crisis Straight Talk on Youth Mental Health and Suicide

"Giving people some resources so that they can be proactive in their parenting and know some of the things that they can do to reduce the likelihood of having that tragedy in their family," Burns said.

Stauffer said there will be many resources at the event and information for parents about what to look out for.

"Some really important things that parents can be aware of is any changes in sleeping or eating habits, education changes drastically, any talks of hopelessness especially if it's paired with impulsivity," she said.

Stauffer said anyone who's been around someone who has threatened suicide or died by suicide is at greater risk, but organizers want parents to know it's important to talk with their kids about mental health and suicide.

"It's important for parents to know that talking to their kids about suicide doesn't contribute to its occurrence. And even asking them questions like, "Do you feel safe? Have you thought about hurting yourself?'" Burns said.

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If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 or text the hotline at (208) 398-4357.