DougCo schools host community night for suicide prevention program

Suzie Glassman

By: Suzie Glassman/Newsbreak Denver

(Castle Rock, CO) The Douglas County School district held a community night earlier this month to provide an overview of the Sources of Strength suicide prevention program at many district schools.

Dr. Kelli Smith, DCSD director of counseling, school-based interventions, and nursing services, said she was impressed by the students who spoke up at the community night with stories about how the program has impacted them.

Many students said Sources of Strength has helped them understand when they can’t handle a situation on their own by teaching them the signs and symptoms that can lead to a suicide attempt. They've learned when and how to reach out to a trusted adult.

Sources of Strength program focuses on positives

“The Sources of Strength program centers around a wheel of eight strengths. Students work with trained adult leaders to focus on what’s going right from positive friends to mental health and family support,” said Kimberly Moore, DCSD Health, Prevention & Social Emotional Learning Lead.

“The program provides a common language for kids to use and share reflections on the strength wheel,” she says. “It also empowers kids to speak up and report to a trusted adult when they believe a friend is in trouble.”

Community Partners provide additional funding for mental health in the district

Several community partners that have employees in Douglas County donated money for mental health initiatives in the district.

Moore said local partners contributed more than $150,000 during the 2021-2022 school year.

The donors include Centura Health, United Healthcare, Castle Rock Adventist Hospital Foundation, The Philip S. Miller Grant Program, and the Douglas County Community Foundation.

Social and emotional learning in the district

The Sources of Strength program isn't a mandated curriculum. “All DCSD schools support social-emotional learning through our state standards. Each school is free to use the program of their choice to master these standards,'' explained Dr. Smith.

If you’d like more information on programs at your school, contact your principal.

National mental health emergency

Last fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association declared a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health.

Recent CDC data reports that “in 2021, more than a third (37%) of high school students reported they experienced poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 44% reported they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year.”

Last year, the Biden administration approved nearly $85 million in funding for mental health awareness, training, and treatment in schools. Additional federal grants are also available.

About Sources of Strength

Sources of Strength is a non-profit organization whose mission is “to prevent suicide by increasing help-seeking behaviors and promoting connections between peers and caring adults.”

A 2011 outcome evaluation report published in the American Journal of Public Health found the Sources of Strength program:

  • Increased youth-adult connectedness
  • Increased Peer Leader’s school engagement
  • Peer Leaders in larger schools were four times more likely to refer a suicidal friend to an adult
  • Increase positive perceptions of adult support for suicidal youth and the acceptability of seeking help

Finding help for your teen

According to the Colorado Children’s campaign, among children 10 to 18 years old, “suicide has been identified as the leading cause of death in recent years, and current local research identified cyberbullying, social media use, a lack of a sense of resiliency, and exposure to adult suicide as risk factors.

If you need urgent help for your teenager, do not delay. You can call one of the following hotlines for confidential advice, available 24/7:

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