Advocates highlight resources for those affected by suicide

HELENA – Helena’s public schools and local advocates highlight the availability of resources, after a week in which two high school students committed suicide.

In a letter to families over the weekend, HPS Superintendent Rex Weltz said it had been a “traumatic week for our HPS school community,” due to these cases and a car accident that took her life. life to a former student and injured several current students.

District leaders said Monday they are working at the school level to make sure all students know they can access support services if they need them.

“Above all, I want our students to know that our counselors, teachers and administrators are there for them,” Weltz said in his letter. “If you have a high school student in your life, tell them they can visit their counseling center or let a teacher know if they would like to see a counselor. “

The district is reorienting board staff from its K-8 schools to help high schools.

Weltz also urged everyone to respect the affected families and give them time to mourn.

Jess Hegstrom, suicide prevention coordinator for Lewis and Clark Public Health, said many people who lose a loved one to suicide don’t get the support they need due to stigma.

“Losing someone to suicide is a really tough journey,” she said. “It can lead to hope and meaning and purpose, but the first step is to take care of yourself. “

Hegstrom facilitates the Lewis and Clark Suicide Prevention Coalition, which has collected information on the resources available to survivors of the loss on his website:

  • The free Helena Area Suicide Bereavement support group, organized by the Breathe, Let’s Start a Conversation group, meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month at the St. Peter’s Health Administration Building.
  • Charlie Health hosts virtual support group meetings on the first and third Friday of the month.
  • The Tamarack Grief Resource Center offers a variety of support services, some aimed specifically at adolescents.

You can find more information on how to access these and other resources on the Coalition’s website.

This Saturday, November 20, is also the International Day of Suicide Survivors.

“The overall goal of this event is to make sure that survivors of loss feel like they are not alone, to help them better understand suicide and also to understand how they can move forward. in a positive way, ”Hegstrom said. “Suicide loss is certainly difficult, but there is life after loss and we want to be able to help people get there. “

This day is usually marked with an event at the State Capitol, but this year it’s happening online. If you are interested in participating, you can find more information here.

The Suicide Prevention Coalition has more resources on suicides and bereavement here.

Advocates are also asking anyone who is having thoughts of suicide or has a friend in trouble to call the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-TALK (1 (800) 273-8255), or send an text “MT” to 741-741. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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