East Tennessee groups: Resources available to prevent suicides

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Knox County Schools and an advocacy group are sharing information about resources for parents and students after three suicides at Farragut High School this semester. The message they want to send is that there is help available.

Some of the students mourning the losses have also been urging for there to be more public awareness. Some students have also been calling on school administrators to take action.

According to the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, this year in Tennessee there have been 19 suicides among school-aged children. Three of those were students at Farragut High School. There was a meeting Thursday to address the issue where around 200 parents, teachers and students were in attendance.

Previous story: Farragut High School coping with three student suicides

Amy Dolinky, East Tennessee Regional Coordinator with the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, was there to answer questions.

“Suicide prevention is really for everybody. We can all ask somebody if they are thinking about suicide. We can all ask if suicide has impacted them. Those are conversations we want to be having,” said Dolinky.

According to the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network in 2005 there were 37 youths, ages 10 to 19 who died by suicide in Tennessee. In 2015 that number increased to 54 and last year Dolinky says a 9-year-old died by suicide in Tennessee.

“It is devastating. It impacts the community. It impacts everyone. It makes me look at what can I do as someone in prevention. What are those things that we need to be stepping up? How can we increase the number of people having this conversation about suicide?” said Dolinky.

She says people need to look for mood and behavior changes, and pay attention to changes in academics then have a conversation.

Previous story: Farragut High School makes change after 3 suicides this semester

“Be able to ask a question that is not a yes or no question, be able to kind of figure out what is it that they are going through,” said Dolinky.

Dolinky says there are many factors that contribute to a suicide, and they don’t know why there is an increase, but she says most students just need someone to talk to and there are resources to connect them to counselors.

“We want to be reaching out to the hotline at any time. We can call if we are concerned about someone else. We can call if we are concerned about ourselves. It is the same thing with the Crisis Text Line. They are 24 hour resources,” said Dolinky.

If you have thoughts of suicide, or are concerned about someone who does, help is available. You can call Helen Ross McNabb’s Crisis Center at (865) 539-2049 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text “TN” to 741741.

Melissa Massie, Knox County Schools’ Executive Director for Student Support Services, says staff members are already trained on mental health awareness and suicide prevention, but some schools have requested additional training and that the training is scheduled to start in the fall.

“Training will be just to enhance those skills about recognizing signs, recognizing opportunities when we need to be intervening with students,” said Massie.

More resources are available on Knox County Schools’ website.

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