Tuscarawas County, Ohio (Tusco TV) - Several Tuscarawas County schools are getting a boost to their suicide prevention programs from a group whose members have all experienced the devastation of a suicide loss.
The Tuscarawas/Carroll County Survivors of Suicide Loss Support Group recently awarded a total of $6,200 in grants to three local schools using the proceeds from their awareness walk last September. Group spokesperson Kristie Wilkin says $3,000 of that money went to Tusky Valley High School to help start up a student outreach team, with another $500 on top of that in free training.
“They’re actually putting in a hope squad. It’s going to be the first hope squad in the area, and that is a team of kids that are picked by their peers as being someone they would go to if they were struggling or having a problem,” she says. “They’re going through a lot of training, even having an off-site camp for the kids that were picked, and we’re just really impressed with them.”
Wilkin says the other awards included $1,000 to Newcomerstown High School to bring in several guest speakers, and just under $1,200 to the East Central Ohio Educational Service Center in partnership with Dover High School to put key staff members through the Gatekeeper suicide prevention training.
“Anyone that we can help train as Gatekeepers or any money that goes in the school system or anywhere else that we decide to fund as far as teachers coming in for the adult arena, that’s just going to help prevent suicide in many different ways,” she says.
Wilkin says suicide remains the second leading cause of death nationwide among youth ages 10 to 23. She says their hope is to combat this trend at the local level by continuing to provide support for area schools and their counselors.
“We want to help as many schools as we can, and we’re going to keep doing that walk every year and doing everything we can to get prevention out there because we don’t want anybody else to go through what we’ve all went through,” she says.
Meanwhile, the group is already making plans for this year’s awareness walk, which is set for September 14th at Tuscora Park. Wilkin says the proceeds from the event will be used to provide another round of grants to area schools.
STACEY CARMANY, TUSCO TV