For the first time, members of the Carson City School District went through a suicide training Monday afternoon to be able to better watch for signals and talk to students who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts.
The safeTALK program, taught by Misty Allen and Jannett Massolo from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Office of Suicide Prevention, is a community-oriented suicide alertness workshop. The purpose of the program is to help faculty learn about the different warning signs students may wish to harm themselves and how to help.
“It is a model for how to recognize someone with thoughts of suicide and how to help with resources in the community,” said Allen. “This program is a great option because it changes hearts and minds of the stigma of suicide and mental health. We want the school leadership to understand, to have the comprehensive learning needed.”
Monday, just school administrators, counselors and Carson City Sheriff’s deputies who work with the schools gathered to go through the training which consisted of videos and interactive training to learn about what they can do for students. Superintendent Richard Stokes said it was decided to start with just the school counselors and administrators to work with a smaller group in the training first before teaching the teachers.
“We decided to make this available to our staff because in recent years we couldn’t think of any formal training we have provided to our staff on this,” Stokes said. “We have just under 500 teachers so to get the information out better we decided to have a more manageable group (with the administration and counselors).”
Stokes said the school district has lost students in the last several years to suicide, and it hopes this provides resources and services to help kids who may not see another way out.
The training started with Massolo speaking to the room of about 50 school leadership members about why it’s important for them to be at that training.
“This is a great way to be introspective and look at how to serve our students,” Massolo said. “Suicide is everyone’s business and I think people should stick their nose in it to keep everyone safe.”
Many of the attendees thought the course was both informative and beneficial for bringing back to their schools.
“The training went well,” said Cherie Mathis, a counselor at Eagle Valley Middle School. “It’s effective because the more people that are familiar with the signs and signals and have the ability to communicate with these students is helpful and can save a child’s life.”
Mathis said the training was a review for her, as she has been through suicide training previously, but it’s still good to relearn certain skills.
“It is good to have that review because everyone should put this at the forefront of their thoughts,” Mathis said. “The more ability that we have to ask direct questions is good. Part of what I learned is not be afraid to ask the hard questions and to help better assist the kids. We need to ask the hard questions and be comfortable and as adults we have to be good at that.”
The training lasted for several hours Monday, and at the end staff members received a certificate stating they completed the course. The training was put on in cooperation with Partnership Carson City.