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Grant supports suicide prevention program in local high schools

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A grant to the Suicide Prevention Education Alliance is empowering teens to recognize the signs of depression and seek help.

Recent tragedies throughout Medina County demonstrate a critical need for the life-saving work of the Suicide Prevention Education Alliance, which works with students in many of our local high schools.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in Ohio among young adults ages 15 to 24. Yet, it is also the most preventable. With proper treatment, most teens suffering from depression can go on to lead happy, productive lives. However, only 38 percent of depressed teens receive the treatment that can help them. 

SPEA addresses this problem at its root by empowering teens to recognize depression in themselves and their classmates. Students are taught that they can be the "first line of defense" in preventing suicide, since teens who make a plan to end their life often inform a friend. 

Using a fun, interactive curriculum that includes video, role-playing, small group work, lecture and Q&A, SPEA instructors teach students how to identify individuals who may be suffering from major depression and/or may be at risk of suicide; how to respond; and where to refer them. This primary prevention program complements the mental health unit in high school health classes. An evidence-based evaluation validates that the program causes at-risk teens to seek help from a mental health professional in the weeks following their participation in the program.

In 2013, SPEA instructors presented their innovative program – Recognizing Teen Depression and Preventing Suicide – to 20,000 students in 120 Northeast Ohio high schools. Through the program, students learn to recognize the signs of depression and to seek help from a trusted adult. 

The lessons learned will last a lifetime, but the real impact is immediate: Last school year, 1,008 students came forward during the program to request help for themselves or a friend and were referred directly to a counselor. Many more came forward to their counselors or family in the days following the program. 

This is just one way SPEA saves families from the unfathomable loss of a child to suicide and helps teens live healthy, productive lives. 

Each fall, SPEA hosts the "Into the Light Walk." It is a unique and powerful event that raises awareness about this issue and provides a therapeutic coming-together for thousands of individuals, many of whom have lost a loved one to suicide. 

The Medina County Women's Endowment Fund is proud to support the invaluable work of SPEA, which prevents suicide by teaching young people to recognize the warning signs of suicide and to seek professional help for themselves and others. Thanks to a grant from the endowment fund, SPEA is offering its innovative program at Brunswick, Buckeye, Cloverleaf, Highland and Medina high schools. 


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