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Coalition to work with schools on how to respond to suicides

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The Jefferson County Suicide Prevention Coalition is working with school districts in Jefferson and Lewis counties to train them on proper response, or “postvention,” to suicide.

Timothy J. Ruetten, Jefferson County Department of Community Services coordinator of mental health services, said several school districts have signed up for training Tuesday that will make sure “responses don’t exacerbate a problem in the community.”

“If we respond to a tragic event in a way that glamorizes the loss, it draws a lot of attention to it where suicide isn’t talked about,” he said. “We don’t want to hide it, rather talk about it in a therapeutic way. We don’t want to make it more of an appealing option for others struggling.”

People who are feeling alone, overwhelmed or unappreciated may see suicide as a way to get attention, Mr. Ruetten said. The training, titled “Lifelines Prevention: Responding to Suicide and Other Traumatic Deaths,” will teach school nurses, teachers, social workers and counselors to help deal with families and the media and will promote sharing of prevention resources.

“We want to make the community understand that it’s truly preventable,” Mr. Ruetten said. “That’s one of our main goals of the Jefferson County Suicide Prevention Coalition.”

The coalition formed last year and has been tasked with educating the community on prevention efforts through educational resources and workshops.

It’s to make suicide “a topic we can talk about, and help folks become aware of how it affects our community,” he said. “The overall goal is to reduce suicide’s impact on our community.”

For more information, call Mr. Ruetten at 785-3283.

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