A student-led suicide prevention program has taken root at high schools in the Lawrence school district. Using peer leaders and adult advisers, Sources of Strength is a program focusing on suicide prevention and other issues teens face, including substance abuse and violence.
Most often implemented in secondary schools or college, SOS focuses on connectivity, school bonding, peer-adult partnerships, and help-seeking behaviors, according to its website.
At Monday’s school board meeting, Jose Cornejo, mental health facilitator, told the board both high schools have trained adults and students in the SOS program. The LHS team, Cornejo said, had trained 30 students and up to 10 adults, and at Free State High School, 30 students and 12 adults had been trained to lead the program.
On Tuesday, the LHS club will host a discussion about youth mental health, including anxiety, depression, daily stress and academics. Speakers will also address what the pandemic has taught society about youth mental health and how to help children move forward.
The event will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the LHS commons, 1901 Louisiana St.
“It’s an evidence-based program and it raises awareness on suicide prevention and crisis management, leaning into a student’s source of strength,” Cornejo said. “We believe it’s going to be an opportunity to have a community conversation. We know we can’t address this alone as a school district. We need our community partners to help us manage the mental health needs not only of our students but our staff, as well as our family members.”
Speakers scheduled for the forum Tuesday include:
- Paula Fite, professor of psychology and applied behavior science at the University of Kansas
- Nicole Rials, K. N. Rials Therapy and Consulting
- Nicole Stafford, director of child and family services at Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center
- Sylvia Trevino-Maack, LHS school psychologist
Get mental health help in Lawrence
These resources are available 24/7 if you or someone you know needs immediate mental health help:
- Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center: 785-843-9192
- Kansas Suicide Prevention HQ (formerly Headquarters): 785-841-2345
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK); veterans, press 1
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Chat: suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
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— Tricia Masenthin (she/her), reporter, can be reached via email at tmasenthin (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com.
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