Community Suicide Prevention Network of SJC seeks funds for public school programming
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY — Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Michigan residents ages 15-34.
In response to this epidemic, the Community Suicide Prevention Network of St. Joseph County is organized and ready to accept funds for programing in public schools. St. Joseph County United Way will be the fiduciary agent to direct money to programs in local school districts for suicide awareness. The goal is $50,000.
“Our board is stepping up to help with this epidemic,” said Kelly Hostetler, executive director for St. Joseph County United Way. “Our hope is to collect enough money to fund the conference in November, as well as funding one program in each school district in the county.”
After much research and many presentations, the committee, along with the county’s superintendents, have selected two programs to offer the schools based on their input and need — Gatekeepers, a Gryphon Place program or #benice. Only two schools in St. Joseph County have an existing structured suicide prevention program, Hostetler said.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, on average, one person dies by suicide every six hours in Michigan. More than four times as many people died by suicide in Michigan in 2017 than in alcohol related motor vehicle accidents.
These unbelievable statistics, coupled with the number of funerals many in the county have attended, prompted community leaders to take action.
Kevin Kane, a family court liaison in St. Joseph County, put a call out for local professionals to help develop a program for our schools to add another voice telling our students of their value.