HERRIMAN (News4Utah) — Last school year was difficult for the Herriman community. Seven students who attended Herriman High School died by suicide.
In an effort to prevent suicides, the Jordan School District is implementing new training.
The district has invested $1 million into training its staff. Among many prevention techniques, teachers are learning intervention tactics and types of red flags to watch out for.
“That million dollars may be the best money we have invested in our students because if we save one life it was worth the price,” said Janice Voorhies, president of the Jordan District Board of Education.
“It’s not easy being a teenager,” said Voorhies. “Your heart is fragile when you’re young and some kinds of things can be devastating. Teenagers don’t have enough experience or perception to know it’s only devastating for a short period of time and then things turn around.”
The district brought in nationally renowned suicide prevention expert, Dr. Scott Poland, to help.
Poland is a professor at Nova Southeastern University. He travels across the country to speak on school crisis, youth violence, and suicide prevention.
KayCee DeYoung teaches theater at Herriman High School. She says last year was tough.
“We care about these kids,” said DeYoung. “We’re not here because of the paycheck. We’re not here for any glory or fame. We’re not here other than because we love our students. We want them to be happy.”
DeYoung is passionate to find solutions. She says she is eager to implement new mental health safety tactics in the classroom.
“One thing that we can do – all of us – is to help our kids learn resilience,” said Voorhies. “(We need) to help them learn that they can face hard things and they can deal with them effectively and they can get help if they need to deal with them effectively.”
Voorhies encourages parents to lock up their guns, drugs, and computers so students don’t have access to anything that could destroy their lives.
“Everyone has days where it’s like you don’t necessarily feel that hope but there is still hope. You give it time, you put in the work, you find people who will support you and there’s hope,” said Voorhies.
South Jordan Mayor Dawn Ramsey released a statement on the district’s efforts:
As a parent, I have seen first-hand the great efforts of our young people, their teachers, counselors, administrators, parents, and members of the Herriman High community, in coming together to show an abundance of support following the tragic event of this past year. I appreciate all Jordan School District is doing by taking such significant action district wide. At their Board Meeting this past Tuesday I heard nationally renowned expert Dr. Scott Polland, applaud the significant efforts of the District, saying it is extremely rare for a school district to go to such great lengths to prevent suicide. They have hired a District Health Specialist, are providing awareness and prevention training to teachers and staff, parents and students. They are creating school health committees, hiring Licensed Clinical Social Workers, collaborating with local mental health agencies to provide greater access to services for students, parents, and staff, have contacted local clergy and offered training to any who are interested, and are looking into ways to ease the burden on school counselors to allow them more time with individual students. As local elected officials in the district boundaries, we will all be meeting with District Administration to discuss ways we can work together to educate the public and provide more tools for families. There are no easy answers and suicide does not have a one size fits all solution, but it is my hope that with everyone working together, we will see a significant decrease in the number of tragedies in our communities.
If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts help is just a phone call away.
You can call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For more information, click here.