Keeping our students healthy and safe has always been a priority for the Anoka-Hennepin School District. The past year has been challenging in a number of ways, not just within the walls of our schools, but for our families and communities as well.
"Suicide contagion" designation inaccurate
Between November 2009 and October 2010, six Anoka-Hennepin students committed suicide. Before district staff fully understood the myths and facts about suicide, district communications referred to this as a "contagion." Based on subsequent information from state and national experts in mental health, we learned that this designation does not exist and should have been used to described the deaths in the district. We apologize for the error and for the spread of inaccurate information about suicides. For information on suicide statistics and (for media) how to report accurately about suicide, contact the Minnesota Department of Health.
Our student services department has received a state grant for suicide prevention and has scheduled some workshops with the national Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) organization. Their staff will address the staff and student body at schools that have experienced suicides this year and work with counselors, prevention specialists and others. We are also seeking grants to provide sessions at remaining schools.
Key staff will also participate in a two-day Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training session. The session will include how to recognize warning signs of depression and suicide and how to appropriately intervene.
The district is seeking further grants to bring additional training to our district for other building and district staff members.
We also want to help our families who are working through these challenges. See the Important Links column to the right for some resources that might assist parents, students and others as they try to help their friends and family through difficult times.
If you or someone you know is in crisis now, seek help immediately. Call Riverwind Crisis Services at 763-755-3801 (24-hour mental health crisis assistance for Anoka County adults, children and families), the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911 for immediate emergency assistance.