Under the leadership of superintendent Walt Hackford, the Mineral County School District continues to add in programs that can enhance the overall well-being of the entire school system. With that in mind, and with the safety of the students at the forefront of these efforts, the SOS (Signs of Suicide) Prevention Program was presented to 38 teachers in a mandatory information session.

With handouts, a video presentation and experts such as Janett Massolo, from the Office of Suicide Prevention, a division of Child, Family and Community Wellness out of Reno, the teachers and staff were given the tools to recognize and properly report signs of possible suicidal distress.

Peggy Edwards from Healthy Communities and a liaison for the Mental Health Court System was on hand at the high school to remind the participants that there are treatable mental health issues. It was conveyed that depression which stems from addiction, whether alcohol or drug induced, and depression which comes from chemical imbalances within the brain or body, are treatable without loss of life.

There are many resources to accommodate the mental health solutions one might need to gain back a balanced lifestyle. Providing the tools and recognizing the distress signals can be the foundation one needs to locate the help and establish well-being within their life.

Randy Samson, an advocate through Healthy Communities said, “You can’t understand the weight of carrying depression unless you know what to look for. This program provides an understanding of the triggers and often overlooked responses. SOS is including the staff and the kids in a screening which brings awareness into the conversation. Most of us can say we know someone that committed suicide. In most cases, following these tragic events, there were signs regarding their mental suffering, which wasn’t as predominant as one might think. By making it safe to talk about it and bringing in a trained and trusted network, we can lessen the feelings of depression within the adolescent and teens in our own community. With these tools, we can build solutions.”

A poster was provided which stated, “Some Secrets Should Be Shared.” It outlines an easy three-part prevention called “ACT”. ACKNOWLEDGE a threat and listen to a friend. CARE by letting your friend know someone cares. TELL a trusted friend and adult that you are worried about this person.

The SOS program is a school-based prevention program incorporating curriculum, with a brief screening for awareness and parental involvement. It also promotes the concept that suicide is directly related to mental illness and can be treated. Peer intervention is a strong component, along with confiding in a trusted adult. Because of the successful components within the SOS program, it has become a multi-state approach across the country, in reaching the key places in society where depression and suicide can stagger our youth.

A parental letter within the packet also includes areas of resiliency, coping with stress and adversity and building self-esteem within our children. The recognized symptoms and ACT prevention strategies were outlined for parents in an easy to read guide.

The presenting group availed themselves to assist in this vital program in the future, as did Hackford, the principals and Counselor John Gavin. A separate presentation was given at the Schurz location, so this mandatory information was properly shared throughout the school district.

The Mineral County School System will be getting into the “ACT” of suicide prevention and assisting with related areas such as bullying, blame and the fear factors that may come with sharing these important social issues.