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South Whidbey High School partnered with the Forefront Suicide Program at the University of Washington in teaching Suicide Prevention.  Suicide prevention is important and necessary work, as many of our students struggle with suicide ideation, and/or other mental health concerns. According to the CDC, suicide is the number two cause of death among 15-24 year olds[1] and, according to the 2018 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey, 26% of high school seniors in Island County report considering suicide in the past year[2]

Starting in the fall of 2017, a team of dedicated staff and parents have met monthly to implement the Forefront Suicide Prevention program at SWHS.  Students joined our team in 2019.

The Forefront Program demands a lot and our team has done an amazing job.

Here’s a list of the program and our accomplishments:

§  Four staff trainings during staff development time (two on youth mental health and two LEARN Suicide Prevention trainings). Another LEARN training is planned this spring for staff who missed our fall 2019 training (including para staff).

§  Four evening suicide prevention trainings for parents (two more coming this March).

§  Peer-to-Peer Trainers: In the spring of 2019, we had 8 students train and present the LEARN Suicide Prevention presentation to high school classes. They did 12 presentations, reaching 42% of our student population. Five more presentations were done in Dec 2019, reaching 127 students. More are planned this March, including training a new group of Peer-to-Peer Trainers.

Our student Peer Trainers were honored with the 2019 Linda Lee Martens Community Health Hero Award by the Island County Community Health Advisory Board.

§  Launched the student-led Mental Health Awareness Club – a student-led initiative doing projects to support mental health in our student population.

§  Updated the Suicide Response Plan (including a plan of assessment for when suicidal concerns about a student emerge).

As our formal agreement with Forefront comes to an end in June 2020, we hope to continue this valuable work.

More info on Forefront:

Forefront Team: Paula Ludtke, Rachelle Bennett, Marcia Statz, Erik Jokinen, Amanda Potter, Carla McDowell, Emmy Atwood, parents Jim Forsyth & Kathy Ireland, and students Clare Martin and Malayah Tucker, and Forefront liaison Charlene Ray.