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Grant allows for training to prevent youth suicide

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sessions are planned to begin in early April 2008 at main office in Sikeston

SIKESTON -- A Missouri Department of Mental Health grant will allow Bootheel Counseling Services to offer training sessions on youth suicide prevention.

The $2,900-grant will enable Bootheel Counseling Services to offer four training sessions which are planned for early April 2008 at the main office location in Sikeston and the Stoddard County branch office in Bloomfield.

Sessions will be open to school counselors, teachers, ministers, youth group leaders, daycare workers, government agencies and anyone interested in youth suicide prevention.

"Suicide is a serious public health problem that is preventable," said Kristi Ottis, clinical therapist at Bootheel Counseling Services. "Through the Youth Suicide Prevention grant we will be able to provide trainings to members of the community on how to identify and respond to persons at risk for suicide as well as how to make referrals to get them the treatment needed."

The suicide rate among young teens and young adults increased by more than 300 percent in the last three decades and rates continue to remain high, according to the 2005 Missouri Child Fatality Review Program. The report said 21 children died of self-inflicted injury; 12 were ages 15-17; the remaining nine were children ages 10-14.

Rebecca Musgrave, program director for Southeast Missouri Regional Suicide Resource Center at Dexter Community Regional Healthcare Foundation, said youth suicide prevention is something that needs to be addressed statewide and locally.

For the past four years Musgrave has gone into schools located in the 15-

county service area where she's had direct contact with high school and middle school students. Musgrave offers educational suicide prevention by teaching students to recognize the signs of suicide and providing students with resource contact information.

"We want to raise the awareness that suicide prevention is something we need to educate others about," Musgrave said. "Sometimes there's a stigma associated with asking for help or not knowing who to turn to, and they don't bring it up. They need to ask the questions and know there's help."

The "Missouri Suicide Prevention Plan, 2005-2010" includes research, data, specific strategies for reducing suicide and suicidal behaviors and links to suicide prevention resources.

Larones Nelson, coordinator for Missouri Mentoring Partnership at the New Madrid County Family Resource Center in New Madrid, said she is looking forward to Bootheel Counseling Services' training sessions this spring.

"I would love more information (about youth suicide prevention)," Nelson said.

Nelson said she attended a youth suicide prevention training about three years ago in Charleston.

"It was an eye opener because we didn't realize how many youth we had with the signs," Nelson said.

Warning signs of suicide and hotline numbers were among the information Nelson said she learned at the training.

In addition to staff members attending sessions in the spring, Nelson said she'd like some of her youth council members to attend and bring the information back to the other kids.

"I think getting the information out to the youth and letting them realize some of the things they might say or do could be a sign of potential suicide," Nelson said. "If you know the signs, maybe you can wake yourself up and say, 'I've got six of the 10 signs. Maybe I need to get some help.'"

Through the future training Bootheel Counseling is able to collaborate with a broad spectrum of agencies, institutions, faith-based organizations, health care facilities, etc., Ottis said. This collaboration helps to ensure more effective and comprehensive suicide prevention in the community, she said.

"We do these types of training, not to intimidate the community, but to prepare and inform them, said Jennifer Hartlein, director of fund development and public relations at Bootheel Counseling Services.

Hartlein continued: "If we are able to educate 50 new community members about the dangers of suicide and suicide prevention and they take that information back to their individual communities, whether it be a school, business, community organization or church, we have created a domino effect in suicide prevention and lives will be saved right here in Southeast Missouri."

For more information, contact Bootheel Counseling Services main office in Sikeston at 573-471-0800 or the Stoddard County branch office in Bloomfield at 573-568-2260.

SIKESTON -- Bootheel Counseling Services recently started a new Co-occuring Disorders Project with the help of a grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health.

This new program offers an integrated treatment plan that provides services for adults diagnosed with a serious mental illness and a substance abuse disorder. The grant, which was initially awarded in November 2006, is entering the second year of funding.

"During our first year of funding we were able develop necessary policies and procedures for a new Co-occuring Disorders Program as well as give required staff trainings," said Jennifer Hartlein, director of fund development and public relations at Bootheel Counseling Services.

With this funding Bootheel Counseling Services has also assisted with the establishment of Double Trouble in Recovery meetings. The meetings consist of peer-led dual recovery self-help groups and are located in Dexter, Sikeston and East Prairie.

"This past year's training has shed new light into how services can be offered," said Teresa Nichols, Co-occuring Disorders Project coordinator. "I am excited to see how staff has gained insight and transformed current services into integrated treatment."