Homedale students train in suicide prevention

Posted at 10:33 PM, Mar 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-05 00:40:11-05

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey from 2015 reveals an alarming trend among Idaho teenagers. One-fourth of ninth grade females admitted to having strongly considered suicide.

A preventative program kicked off at an area middle school on Friday.

It's Homedale Middle School students who will soon find out from their peer mentors that they don't have to navigate through the trickier parts of life alone.

The Sources of Strength, anti-suicide program is modeled after what is called an "upstream" philosophy.

It involves taking on a proactive approach to prevent thoughts of self harm in the first place through the creation of positive and supportive environments.

The program caught the attention of the school's middle school counselor Brooke Winston.

"We can stop this before it even starts," she said.

Winston is the one who submitted the program application to the Idaho Department of Education. After being accepted into the program, a training session was scheduled to get adult and a select group of peer mentors up to speed on how the program works.

Program creators identified eight sources of strength that each of us has the potential to tap into during tough times. They are family support, positive friends, mentors, healthy activities, generosity, spirituality, medial access and mental health.

The first day of training seemed to be a success.

"It was a good experience and positive because know I know that you can help people," said Elizabeth Hergesheimer, a sixth grade peer mentor. "And, if they talk to you, you can talk to an adult about it."

One of the assignments was to write a thank you letter to someone you trust. Someone you would feel comfortable going to if you needed to let them know about a friend who is in danger.

"I wrote one to my grandma because she always, always helps me during anything. She's so supportive," said Laney Swallow, 11, a peer mentor. "And, then, of course, I wrote one to my mom and my dad."

Once the program is implemented at the school, the message will be spread throughout the entire community.

"The empowerment that I felt in that room from those students was incredible," Winston said. "They are ready to be a part of something... and just to be recognized and honored for their strength that they're ready to build on."

The Sources of Strength program is funded through a grant.

HMS is the only school in Western Idaho that was chosen for the program this year.

The 24-hour suicide hotline is 1-800-273-TALK.