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New resource available to help students report mental health concerns, prevent suicide

Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 9:35 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - On World Suicide Prevention Day, the Wisconsin Department of Justice is showcasing a new resource to use when it comes to recognizing and preventing suicide in schools.

“We have an Office of School Safety at the Department of Justice,” explained Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul. “One of the things that we identified is that a number of states have tip-lines that students can call into if they have concerns about their own safety, or the safety of others so that follow-up can happen. So we worked to create a tip-line here.”

That tip-line, a new 24/7 school safety tool is now up and running.

The SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT Resource Center is now available to students, faculty, and community members throughout the state of Wisconsin.

The resource can be accessed via the SUSO website, an app on a phone or you can call the toll free number 1-800-697-8776.

“Students can submit information anonymously,” explained Attorney General Kaul. “They can submit information about any concerns of safety they see, whether it be bullying; somebody presenting a danger to the school environment; or if they have concerns about self-harm or somebody else self-harming.”

Once a tip is submitted, a trained analyst reviews the information and then follows up with a contact at the school, whether that be a counselor or another member of the faculty. Law enforcement may also be contacted if the case presents an immediate danger.

Morgan Rose and Cordie Hosler, along with their friend Elli Patrick, have worked hard to bring more awareness to the topic of suicide and suicide prevention after losing a classmate and friend to suicide during the summer of 2019.

Their efforts lead to Assembly Bill 531 which requires school IDs in Wisconsin to have the national or local suicide prevention lifeline number.

Morgan, Cordie, and Elli’s mother, Robin Patrick, spoke with NewsChannel 7 about the new resource being made available for students on Thursday, saying they appreciate that the app can be anonymous.

“Sometimes you can’t just go to the person that you’re worried about and just tell them because it might make the situations worse,” Hosler said. “Sometimes it can be scary or stressful for the person who’s worried.”

COVID-19 has also played a factor. With more students learning virtually than ever before, it can be a challenge for teachers and trained counselors to spot situations where a student may be at risk.

“Having an app is really good. Especially for the times right now,” Rose said. “We can’t really see our friends or know what’s going on in their minds. I know when I see my friends day today, I can tell when their mood is off and stuff like that.”

For Patrick, she’s watched her daughter and two friends stand up for something they believe in to try and make sure other students throughout the state don’t have to feel the same way that they felt in the summer of 2019, and while she is proud of the work that has been done, she says there’s still more work to do.

“It needed to happen so many years ago,” Patrick said. “We need to recognize that mental illness and physical illness is the same thing. I have had friends that have lost their children to cancer, and it breaks my heart, but they have had so much support. Then I have friends who have children with mental illness. They don’t get that same support. That’s what we need to change, and we need to change it on a state level and a national level.”

“De-stigmatize it,” added Hosler.

“Make it recognized that it’s okay not to be okay,” echoed Rose.

Along with the contact information for the SUSO Resource Center that is listed in the article above, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has someone on hand 24/7 to take your call at 1-800-273-8255. You can also visit the national website here.

Warning signs that someone may be contemplating are provided by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and listed below:

· Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves

· Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun

· Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

· Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

· Talking about being a burden to others

· Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs

· Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly

· Sleeping too little or too much

· Withdrawing or isolating themselves

· Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

· Extreme mood swings

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