September was National Suicide Prevention Month. The news and the local newspapers have done articles and press releases on the staggering numbers of suicide issues in South Dakota, as well as the stats for the nation.
Dupree School and other programs have hung posters, held walks, and passed out lots of objects (varying from water bottles and bags to bracelets and informational cards) and information on ways that people can help others through extremely difficult times and feelings.
Taking this information to the home front, Dupree School counselors are working with their students in a variety of ways. In the elementary, Miss Amber Woitalla and her students are going through the SOS (Signs of Suicide) Curriculum in the 5th/6th grade (which includes a screening for depression). The K-4th grade students are doing the Second Step program to learn more about mindset and how your brain works.
In addition to their educational/career lessons with Mrs. Peacock, the JH/HS students have been incorporating the Culture of Kindness curriculum to increase positivity and kindness towards peers/family members and Supt. Dr. Fodness has passed out kindness-themed bracelets to students throughout the school system.
Building on this, each class in the JH/HS is doing the Text4Hope seminar where they learn more about the risk factors of suicide; as well as warning signs and basic things to do and who to reach out to when dealing with concerns personally or with friends/family. The Text4Hope programs have been done through the state-managed program out of Sioux Falls via Zoom presentations with Mrs. Peacock facilitating at the building level.
To continue on this path of suicide prevention, the school is also trying to set up some more specific lessons for the older students that would be delivered through some programs that the state offers.
There are a lot of good resources to learn more about the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, to refresh your knowledge base on the issue, and to find more resources about how to help others as well as yourself when dealing with suicidal ideation:
Call 1-800-273-TALK to visit with a person on the phone.
Send a text to Text4Hope texting “icare” to 898211.
Follow the state program: “Be the 1” that shows you care and help to save a life.