Suicide Prevention Efforts

Dear Superintendents,

First, my heartfelt and best wishes to new and seasoned superintendents as you open a new school year. It’s exciting to welcome students, staff, and the community to a new chapter. I’ve been sending out a weekly update for over a year now and the purpose is twofold:

  • To provide talking points, resources, information, and share happenings at WDE. (Blue underlined text indicated a “hot” link to a resource.)
  • To allow superintendents an opportunity to preview memos before they go to pertinent district staff on Monday morning.

Multiple districts invited suicide prevention speakers and trainers as part of back-to-school preparation. I believe strongly that your efforts will make a difference and that the next step is to bring effective awareness training to students and to communities. Earlier this week I was part of several events that addressed the role of schools, educators, parents, youth, non-profits, churches, parents, and others in the prevention efforts. I maintain that schools alone cannot reduce the suicide rate. Schools are a stable vehicle for prevention efforts but it takes advocacy and work at all levels within a community to make sustainable changes. Last spring I wrote a guest column about suicide prevention that appeared in newspapers across the state.

There are resources for schools and communities to support prevention efforts.  Later this month, there is a Suicide Prevention Conference in Casper and it is preceded by a symposium hosted by Governor Mead.  Incidentally, the symposium follows the AdvancEd Continuous Improvement Conference and I encourage educators who are attending the CIC to attend the symposium as well.

The floor of Casper Events Center is filled with people sitting at tables for the breakfast event.
Boys and Girls Club of Central Wyoming Annual Breakfast. The distinguished service award was given to Bill Daniels and the Daniels Fund. Kevin Hines was the guest speaker.
Keving Hines speaks from a podium at the Casper Events Center.
Kevin Hines is one of 26 to survive jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. He works to build capacity of schools and communities to prevent suicide.

This week, I also had the opportunity to visit WDE staff member, Jo Otterholt. She is the resource specialist at a unique library located in Casper. Jo maintains resources for individuals who are visually impaired or deaf/hard of hearing. There are a number of resources available for parents, teachers, and others who support individuals with these disabilities. The library has an organized outreach process so the materials are available to anyone across the state.

Jo Otterholt standing next to a filled bookshelf at the library.
WDE Resource Specialist, Jo Otterholt, stands by children’s literature that is presented in English and American Sign Language

Memos to be released Tuesday, Sept. 6:

Jillian