Twenty percent of Idaho high school students have thought seriously about suicide. This is according to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted by the state’s Department of Education.
The survey looks at the 2014-2015 school year. One in five students had serious thoughts of suicide and three percent had actually attempted suicide.
The Idaho Department of Education is responding to these statistics by implementing the Sources of Strength Program, along with the state’s Department of Health and Welfare. The program teaches how best to prevent suicide and bullying. Forty-nine schools are already in the program.
Matt McCarter is Director of Student Education at the Department of Education. He says Idaho’s suicide rate is unacceptable. His department’s program aims to address that.
“One of the most compelling parts about Sources of Strength is its focus around cultivating help-seeking behaviors among young people,” McCarter says. “And, really, leveraging strengths of individuals in overcoming challenging situations.”
This Fall, 10 new schools will receive funding for these two-year programs, with $2,400 grants. McCarter says the goal is teach students to recognize when their peers are struggling, and to act in positive and engaging communication.
“ It’s a critical mass of small, informal interactions that leaves one the impression that ‘I’m valued and I belong here,’” says McCarter.
The schools being funded include North Junior High School in Boise, Lakeside Junior/Senior High School in Plummer, Heritage Academy in Jerome and several others.
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