The Southwest Coalition of Excellent Decision-Makers (SW COED) will be launching a suicide prevention and education effort thanks to a $1,900 grant the local group received from the Missouri Department of Mental Health.
"The goal of this project is to enhance the skills of teachers, administrators, counselors and pastors on how to recognize and respond to the signs of suicide while also educating students on distinguishing the signs of suicide," said Kati Rose, SW COED secretary who is serving as project coordinator for the suicide prevention grant.
The grant funding will also allow the coalition to provide prevention information to the Southwest R-5 community to increase awareness of suicide.
"Suicide is hard to talk about, and we hope this grant helps with that," said Rose. "We also hope this grant will help us provide support for those students who need help."
According to Rose, the SW COED group was formed in 2008, the summer after a Southwest student committed suicide in 2007.
"Since then, one of the coalition's goals was to prevent suicide, and other behaviors such as cutting, in the future," said Rose.
Based on 2010 Missouri Student Survey data, there is a high need to implement suicide prevention programs within the coalition's geographic area, which includes the communities of Washburn and Seligman. That data shows that during the past 12 months, 12.6 percent of the Southwest R-5 students who were surveyed said they considered attempting suicide while 10.5 percent made a plan for that attempt.
Rose said several sectors with the R-5 community have expressed concern over the prevalence of suicidal behavior and would like to see some type of program implemented to combat that behavior. The grant was seen as one way to respond to those concerns.
Through the grant, the SW COED plans to host a town hall meeting on suicide prevention. Funding will also be used to teach the Signs of Suicide (SOS) program to Southwest middle and high school students this spring.
Other planned activities include: Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) suicide prevention training for teachers, counselors, administrators and pastors; implementation of the Lifelines program during middle school and high school health classes in the fall of 2011; and the dissemination of advertising and informational literature about suicide prevention to parents and the general public.
The total cost to implement the suicide prevention program is estimated at just over $5,100. The grant will provide $1,900 of the funding and the rest of the costs will be covered by in-kind resources.
The suicide prevention grant award matches the coalition's overriding mission, which is to reduce the use of drugs and alcohol and decrease bullying, personal abuse such as suicide and cutting and domestic abuse among the area's sixth through 12th graders.