Preventing suicide

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Sitting in the church sanctuary, I take a deep breath, look around and see young children and wrinkled faces, holding tissues and staring blankly at the podium on the stage. The room is quiet, save a few sad parishioners sniffling away their tears. The more people cry, the sadder I become.

In my sadness, I think of the potential of this seventh-grader who ended his life feeling helpless, depressed and alone. I wonder, what words might I offer as he sits in my office as a fifth-grader because he refuses to listen to his teacher, that offers hope, kindness or options? Did I yell at him, tell him he is hopeless or degrade him? No. Instead I offer, “You are better than this.”

I think back to innumerable conversations with this boy about his potential, about his attitude and about his future. I wonder, what if? What if this boy lived and offered the world his incredible kindness, his ridiculously funny humor and his love of beautiful things? If this boy lived, the world would be a better place but in a moment of sadness, grief and depression, a rope ended this boy’s life.

In his death, this boy leaves behind a family who loves him, friends who wonder what they did wrong to allow this to happen and teachers who struggle to understand how a young boy who laughs in their class while being obnoxiously annoying can decide the only option to end his pain is to end his life.

Writing this column tonight, I struggle to make sense of the mind of one in such pain — so depressed, hurting — to make the decision to leave this Earth? This question is one the Stand Up Speak Up, anti-bully group in the Coeur d’Alene School District struggles with daily. How might we help children who struggle, who are bullied or are hurting feel supported, loved and nurtured?

As a member of this group, I will use my column to focus on ways to defeat bullying, to end child suffering and to support children who stand up to bullies. Once a month, I will offer writing from my Stand Up Speak Up team which focuses on combating bullying, child on child aggression and childhood social ills. The goal of our group is simply to support children who struggle to support themselves. I hope you find these writings important, informational and transformational.

Our first writing comes from team member Laura Rumpler who offers advice on preventing suicide and gives tools and resources to keep the people we love from taking their own lives.

Laura writes: Suicidal, Stressed or Sad? How do you know if your teen, friend or coworker is suicidal, stressed or just sad? Suicide. It’s a difficult topic to talk about especially when confronted with concerns about a teenager. I have struggled with the right words to share in this note and realized that talking about suicide prevention and sharing critical information is what’s most important. So here goes…

Our school district has invested in QPR—Question, Persuade, Refer as our core suicide awareness and intervention training. Below is a link to our district’s website and an updated 3-minute video giving you an overview of the QPR program (

Our school district is offering FREE upcoming QPR Gatekeeper trainings for parents, staff and community members from 5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25, at Canfield Middle School and from 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2, at Atlas Elementary School (recommended for anyone 14 years of age or older). RSVP to

Below is a link to a recent article titled: 6 Myths About Suicide That Every Educator & Parent Should Know. This article not only touches on myths but warning signs. It is a worthwhile read (

Know you are not alone. I encourage you to learn more about suicide intervention, ask questions and seek help from our school administrators, counselors and other district staff you feel comfortable talking with. We can help connect you with the information and people you need.

If you or someone is in immediate crisis: CALL 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255), the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline or TEXT the Crisis Text Line — a free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. TEXT 741741 from anywhere in the USA to text with a trained Crisis Counselor.

Take care.

— Laura Rumpler, director of communications


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