Teen Suicide Summit gathers to discuss ways to stop a growing problem

Teen Suicide Summit gathers to discuss ways to stop a growing problem

LANE COUNTY, Ore. - Teenage suicide is a rising problem not only nationally, but locally.

In Lane County, one in four teens have seriously contemplated suicide, and one in five have attempted suicide.

A wide cross of community members, from school representatives to mental health professionals, all gathered for a summit this evening to discuss the issue.

During the summit, Dr. Pilar Bradshaw introduced a program called "Hope Squads." The plan is to align the schools with the behavioral and mental health services available for teens. The program trains advisers in school settings so they can work with kids to help support their peers.

"When they have that peer support, if they identify changes in behaviors, or someone seems to be struggling, they can then help that person get connected with the school," said Jeff Huston, with Thrive Behavioral Health. "And then that school reaches out, finds resources, it helps to improve both on a crisis level, but also for some long term support."

The program is being used by hundreds of schools as a way of changing the culture. Superintendent Sue Reike-Smith sees this as one piece to tackling the problem.

"As we had a conversation about the hope squads, I could definitely see power relative to peer to peer," said Reike-Smith. "And believe it may be an additional piece to the suite of services that we wish to offer to our students and families relative to supporting them with mental health concerns."

Opening the conversation was one of the key goals of the summit, which was also looking to discuss the available resources, the needed resources and the funding.

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