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South Whidbey High School has 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 2021 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey, 29% 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:

§  Annual  staff trainings during staff development time (alternating between youth mental health and LEARN Suicide Prevention trainings). The next is planned for for February 2023 (including para staff).

§  Annual suicide prevention training for parents and community members (offered most recently in a virtual format in November 2022, and the next in-person training tentatively scheduled for April 2023.

§  Peer-to-Peer Trainers: Prior to Winter Break 2022, we had 12 students train and present the LEARN Suicide Prevention presentation in high school classes. They facilitated 17 presentations, reaching  100% of our student population. 

The Forefront Team from the University of Washington has relied on the SWHS Forefront team to assist with their annual training regarding the Peer-to-Peer Trainers and implementing the program in the high school setting.

Previously, 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 and maintain the student-led Mental Health Awareness Club – a student-led initiative doing projects to support mental health in our student population.

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

More info on Forefront:

Forefront Team: Paula Ludtke, Rachelle Bennett,  Erik Jokinen, Trace Prael, Paul Lagerstedt, Marguerite Berg, Emmy Atwood, and  Jim Forsyth.