March 2011 eNewsletter
New Elementary-Level Health Curriculum
The writing of Riding the Waves - our elementary-level health curriculum - is done. Lisa Watson and Sue Eastgard have finished designing the 10 lessons and now it goes off to the elementary counselors in the Snoqualmie Valley School District for beta-testing. We are eager to observe how the 5th graders react to and utilize the social and coping skills that they are being taught. We appreciate the support of the counselors, teachers and students in the Snoqualmie Valley School District. These lessons complement the middle and high school lessons that have already been written and nationally reviewed. H.E.L.P. and LOOK LISTEN LINK have been placed on the Best Practices Registry. Our goal is to get Riding the Waves placed on the registry as well, but first we need to evaluate the outcomes of the lessons. We want to know whether the students feel more prepared to handle stress, and if they know where they can go for adult help for themselves or friends. We have submitted a couple of grants that if funded, would pay for that evaluation.
Great Opportunity for New Funding
After returning from a restful January vacation in Costa Rica, Sue spent most of February preparing to submit a federal grant - a grant that could make a significant difference for suicidal adolescents and young adults in our state. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) announced the availability of funding that would support suicide prevention and early intervention services (i.e., training, screening) and also pay for mental health treatment.
With input from OSPI, DOH and the Division of Behavioral Heath and Recovery (DBHR) we selected three communities to pilot our proposed programming. In Yakima County, Sunnyside, Mt. Adams and Mabton School Districts agreed to participate. In Pierce County, Bethel School District said “yes” to our invitation and in Cowlitz County, the Lower Columbia Community College was enthusiastic about their older students (18-24 year olds) benefitting from the services.
We will develop functional care teams in each high school and college that consist of counselors, nurses, prevention-intervention specialists and a YSPP care coordinator. Each care team member will participate in the 2-day ASIST workshop and receive training to use the GAIN-SS – a screening tool to assess substance abuse and mental health concerns. Additionally, all teachers will be encouraged to engage in on-line suicide awareness training developed by Kognito Interactive. Health teachers will specifically be trained to deliver the H.E.L.P. lessons to their 9th grade students. When a referred student is screened and determined to be in need of further assessment and treatment the functional care team will make sure that the student is seen by a mental health specialist. Funding from the grant would pay for treatment for those suicidal students who do not have private insurance or state assistance.
University of Washington faculty, Elaine Walsh PhD and Carole Hooven PhD agreed to serve as the project’s evaluators. We are indebted to all of the people who contributed to the design and production of this application. A special thank you to Keri Healey – YSPP’s fantastic grant writer - who went many days and nights without much sleep. Wish us luck; we should know the decision in late summer.
YSPP Presence at 2011 AAS National Conference
The American Association of Suicidology is hosting their national conference in Portland, Oregon next month. Heather Carter submitted a workshop proposal on bias-based bullying and suicide risk that was accepted; she will be presenting on Thursday afternoon, April 14th. Lisa Watson will present a workshop the next day on our elementary and middle school health lessons. Sue Eastgard will facilitate two different pre-conference sessions. Sue will join up with Linda Langford and Ellie Stout, from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, to offer a workshop on communication campaigns that make a difference. She will also “share the stage” with Andrea LaFazia from the King County Division of Mental Health and Chemical Abuse and Dependency Services. They will facilitate a session on designing and implementing a local suicide prevention effort with “lots of passion, but not a lot of money”.
If you are interested in attending the conference and hearing these dynamic presentations, go to www.suicidology.org to register.
Generous Grants Awarded to Fund LGBTQ Project
We are excited to report that our OUTLoud project has recently received favorable decisions on three grant applications. The Pride Foundation, Real Networks, and the Women Helping Women Fund have generously awarded YSPP with funds to support the specialized training and education services in our LGBTQ project. OUTLoud Project Manager, Heather Carter has completed the development of a presentation that we have titled “safe from bullies, saving lives”. We believe that all students are impacted by bullying – either as the bully, the target or the bystander. The presentation addresses the long-term negative mental health outcomes of bullying, including a risk of suicide, and provides suggestions for changes in schools, community organizations and families. If you are interested in receiving the training, contact Heather at (206) 297-5922 ext 116 or check out our training calendar.
Community makes Tree of Life Fundraiser a Success
The OUTLoud project has also benefitted from the local fundraising efforts of the Seattle Gay News. Editor-in-chief, George Bakan, and staff writer, Shawn Knittel, installed the Tree of Life campaign in 10 participating Capitol Hill (and some off-the-Hill) bars, restaurants, and businesses. Throughout the course of the campaign, participating locations solicited customers to purchase a paper Tree of Life. Whenever a customer purchased a Tree of Life, it was displayed in the establishment throughout the month. The community response to the Tree of Life program was tremendous, and the fundraising effort raised over $5,000!
2011 Night FantAsia Fundraiser
Night FantAsia 2011 was held at Nijo Sushi Bar & Grill in late February. Seattle drag sensation Aleksa Manila served as hostess. In addition to making new friends and meeting old ones, the night was a great way to come together and revel in the diversity of the LGBT community in Seattle and support YSPP.
FREE Suicide Prevention training in King County
Do you live or work in King County? If so, you can attend FREE suicide prevention training. Funding for training is being provided by the King County Division of Mental Health, Chemical Abuse and Dependency Services, so you don’t have to pay a dime.
SafeTALK is a three-hour class that helps participants learn to identify the “invitations” (warning signs) and where to refer the suicidal person for help. ASIST – Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training – is a two-day class that reinforces what was taught in SafeTALK and then offers participants the opportunity to learn by doing – engaging in simulations and role-plays to practice the suicide intervention model. SafeTALK and ASIST workshops are scheduled monthly. To sign up, go to our Training Calendar.
State budget cuts would mean a reduction in YSPP services
We continue to communicate with our legislators in Olympia. While we understand the horrible choices that have to be made during this budget session, we continue to believe that full funding ($170,000 annually) is necessary for youth suicide prevention efforts.
You may remember that DOH recommended elimination of YSPP funding, but the governor did not accept that recommendation and kept in half ($85,000 annually) of our previous allocation. The State House and Senate have not presented their budgets so we are busy talking with legislators and explaining why full funding – as small as it is – is essential. We have been excellent stewards of state dollars: each year, millions of people access our website, thousands of students participate in prevention education, hundreds of teachers and parents attend training, and nearly 80 community advocates serve on six local coalitions that facilitate awareness activities.
It is also clear that our work is not done: teens and young people continue to die by suicide; schools are still not required to teach mental health and suicide prevention within their health curriculum; many parents remain convinced that their child would never become depressed or suicidal; nearly one-quarter of teens report that they are not very likely to seek help; and still too few counselors know how to accurately assess and intervene with a suicidal young person.
Registration now open for YSPP's 3rd Annual Night of Jazz
You can now reserve a spot at YSPP’s 3rd Annual Night of Jazz. We have great auction items including a round of golf at Bear Creek, a dinner cruise on Puget Sound and a photography session with Katie McCullough Simmons, the exclusive photographer of the Dali Lama’s visit to Seattle.
Plan on joining us – we guarantee fun and you will be helping a good cause. Children’s Hospital and Medical Center has stepped forward as a sponsor for the event. Like us, they believe that every child should “be able to live their best life.”
YSPP to receive $1 for every aromatherapy candle purchased
Help support YSPP services in Clark County. When you purchase an aromatherapy candle from Sorella Naturale, they will donate $1.00 to YSPP. Sorella Naturale is a small, family-owned and operated business in Vancouver, Washington. Their candles are made with natural soy wax, pure organic essential oil and cotton wick. They have turned a hobby into a business and now hand pour, wrap and blend all of their own products. Buy a candle, enjoy the way your home smells and feel good about helping YSPP.
You'll be missed, Debbie!
Our long-time friend - and contract monitor - at the Washington State Department of Health, Debbie Ruggles, left her position at DOH in mid-February. She has taken another state job working as the stewardship coordinator for the Puget Sound Partnership. Debbie was always supportive; she advocated for us; she helped “opened doors” for YSPP in other governmental organizations like OSPI, DBHR and Family Policy Council. Debbie’s position will be filled, but Debbie will never be replaced.