Observing National Suicide Prevention Week: What’s Up? Wellness seeks to help teens through tough times | TheUnion.com

Observing National Suicide Prevention Week: What’s Up? Wellness seeks to help teens through tough times

Counselors from local nonprofit What's Up? Wellness are determined to help those in need — particularly teens — to seek help when feeling depressed or experiencing suicidal ideation this week during National Suicide Prevention Week.

Shellee Sepko, program director at What's Up?, said the program she heads focuses on teens — mainly ninth graders — who happen to fall in the age range where statistics have shown the highest rate of suicidal thinking. The highest rate of suicide completion for the age group, Sepko said, is found in students in the 10th grade.

As part of their efforts, What's Up? conducts health screenings that assess for suicide and mental health issues so they can help prevent any future crisis from happening.

"We meet with students from all district high schools in the county," said Sepko. "Students receive a suicide screening, and receive a wellness checkup throughout the year, depending on the individual. Parents need to consent for the wellness checkup and have the option to have their student screened."

The parental consent forms, Sepko said, are available in a student's introductory packet when they start school and can be obtained at each school or through What's Up? Wellness.

Students are screened for levels of stress, relationship issues, conflicts, drug and alcohol issues, symptoms around depression and anxiety and any suicidal ideation or attempts.

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After their initial screening, students meet with counselors about receiving additional support and coping skills.

"We are clinically trained," Sepko said, "so if it looks like support is needed, we talk about the benefits of therapy. If needed we contact parents and see what is a possible resource to them.

"(Suicide) is certainly becoming more on the radar," said Sepko. "People are more aware of the risk of suicide and we are all in this together and we need to help each other."

Immediate resources for those experiencing a crisis, Sepko said, would be the crisis stabilization unit at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. Those in need can just walk in and receive support right away.

A local crisis line is available in addition to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If all else fails, call 911 if you or someone you care about might be experiencing suicidal thoughts, said Sepko.

"A lot of times when folks are struggling with suicidal thoughts they feel very alone and that there's no hope for them," said Sepko. "The reality is that they are not alone and there are supportive, caring, loving, folks in our community that are actively working to help prevent someone from attempting or completing a suicide."

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union and can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com or 530-477-4231.

Language in this article has been revised from its original version. The word “committing” was replaced with “completing” to reflect What’s Up? Wellness’ belief that the word “commit” perpetuates a stigma.

MORE INFO

Nevada County offers many support systems for those experiencing suicidal thoughts

Nevada County Behavioral Health Crisis Line: 530-265-5811

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 741741

Local mental health support through education, advocacy and groups at http://www.naminevadacounty.org

Peer support through http://www.spiritpeerempowermentcenter.org

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