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Grand Forks school leaders talk suicide prevention, response

Youth suicide continues to be an issue in Grand Forks, but school counselors say progress is being made and community buy-in is necessary to improve mental health among students and prevent future losses.

Youth suicide continues to be an issue in Grand Forks, but school counselors say progress is being made and community buy-in is necessary to improve mental health among students and prevent future losses.

Counselors and administrators from across Grand Forks Public Schools addressed the board about how the schools respond to and are working to prevent suicide at Tuesday night's meeting.

Assistant Superintendent Jody Thompson said undiagnosed but treatable conditions such as depression are contributing factors in 90 percent of suicides.

Counselors said students are learning more about cues someone may be struggling with depression and recommending to counselors they reach out to troubled students, which has helped many get the help they need. Many added that community members also need to educate themselves on warning signs.

The district is now participating in Trauma Sensitive Schools, a program that tries to identify kids with tough home lives to get them the help they need. Children who are exposed to one traumatic experience, such as sexual abuse, have about a 2 percent chance of committing suicide. Those with four or more have a 20 percent chance, studies show.

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Red River High School counselor Marilyn Ripplinger said the district has improved its crisis response over the last 14 years to provide students services in the wake of an incident, but noted there is always room for improvement.

"Suicide prevention is possible, but it takes all of us," Ripplinger said.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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