by Ashley Kasprzak, JVA Consulting
I recently heard the story of actor Andrew Koenig’s death in Canada and I thought, “Whoa, that story is uncomfortably too familiar!” Next, I realized that my brow was furrowed, jaw clenched and I was trying to calm myself with great big sighs. My father, a very wonderful dad and friend, took his own life nearly seven years ago. My family, many friends and I are now supporters of the Suicide Resource Center for Larimer County. Our connection with the center has provided us with a new understanding about mental health, and depression, in particular.
With the increased knowledge I now have regarding depression, I have a strong desire to talk about the need for mental health treatment. WebMD says that depression usually starts between the ages of 15 and 30.
Knowing that trend doesn’t make the recent death of Marie Osmond’s son Michael Blosil any less shocking. He died on February 27, 2010 with initial reports indicating that he completed suicide.
I am reminded that a person’s smile doesn’t necessarily reflect true feelings. No matter the cause of Marie’s periods of despair or her son’s hopelessness, it is clear that some people find themselves lost. It’s so valuable to check in with those we love, press them to be honest and support time for selfcare.
Fortunately, there is a cutting-edge program making a significant difference for youth at risk for suicide: Second Wind Fund, Inc. JVA Consulting is currently working with Second Wind Fund and has learned that its model is favorable over national suicide hotlines and information/referral sites because of six critical success factors:
1. Youth are quickly linked to counselors and are seen within 48 hours.
2. Counselors are specially trained to help youth at risk for suicide.
3. Counseling sessions are free for those who are uninsured or can’t pay.
4. Counselors are geographically close to the youth.
5. When medication is a piece of the puzzle to tackle the health challenge, links are made so youth can access the medication they need.
6. The model is research-based with most kids addressing their challenges in eight sessions or less.
Second Wind Fund started in metro Denver after four teenagers took their own lives at Green Mountain High School in Lakewood during the 2001-2002 school year. The model has expanded to nine Colorado affiliates with underwriting from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Expansion to other states is expected in the next two years. To help support teenagers with this proven program, click here.