6.36 Illinois : Teen suicide: More schools bring issue out of shadows, The Chicago Tribune, Feb. 21, 2011
A new Illinois law encouraging teachers and staff to update their suicide prevention training augments the prevention efforts many schools have already incorporated into the school year. At Oak Lawn Community High School, all freshmen are screened for depression and suicidal ideation. This January, a fifth of the 270 students who received screening were referred to counselors for follow-up interviews; about half of the referred students were offered free in-school therapy or referrals to outside counselors. More than 50 Illinois middle schools have invited the suicide prevention education organization Erika’s Lighthouse to teach their students about mental illness and help them recognize signs of depression. In addition to increasing students’ understanding of mental illness and suicide, experts hope programs like this will help them become more comfortable discussing these issues and seeking help. “Most of those who suffer from serious suicidal (thoughts) do not seek help from mental health professionals, and one of the major reasons is stigma,” said Philip Rodgers, a program evaluation specialist at American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “By decreasing that stigma, we feel that those who are at risk might be more likely to seek help.”
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