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Suicide Prevention Day in the Valley - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Suicide Prevention Day in the Valley

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Around the valley and the world, Tuesday, the focus is on mental health. September 10th is recognized as Suicide Prevention Day. In North Dakota, September is Suicide Prevention Month. It's a time not just to remember those lost to suicide, but to find effective ways to prevent it.

As part of our Mental Health: It Matters partnership with mental health non-profits, Valley News Team's Hope Hanselman looks into what work is being done for the youth of our community to find help and the efforts that still need to be made.

"We're in a state that has too many suicides. One is too many," Dr. David Flowers, Superintendent of West Fargo Public School, said.

Thousands of students right here in the valley carry a weight on their shoulders much heavier than their books. Dr. Flowers oversees 8,500 of those students in West Fargo.

"I'm very aware that they're not all well each day. That there are crises- mental health crises."

His district is not alone. According to the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Study, nearly 23 percent of students in the Fargo area admitted to feeling so sad almost everyday they stopped doing activities they once loved.

"It's rare that a week goes by that I don't sign paperwork so that children can continue to receive some kind of educational support while they are in in-patient treatment for mental health issues," Flowers said.

But getting help is not easy.

"Our counselors certainly have a very full plate. They do a lot in this area also. Nevertheless, they could use more help from the community in getting children and families the help they need," Flower said.

Local neuroscience experts say we have an "absolute need" for more resources for patients and families.

"There's just a lot of people out in the community hurting; and we'd like to try to see what we can do for them," Anthony Verdi, a facilitator with a Suicide Survivor Support Group, said.

Verdi leads the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention support group in Fargo once a month, opening the discussion to children and teens.

"They've actually recruited some people in here that have been suicidal. So, I think that we're trying to get the word our through the kids that we're helping also," he said.

Verdi and the West Fargo School District share the same goal: taking action right away when someone is hurting-- well before a crisis.

"If the students are empowered to be part of a program that is proactive, I think that's very healthy and is a very positive step," Flowers said.

Some organizations, including the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, work to bring mental health educational videos into schools to teach students about identifying mental illnesses, like depression and anxiety.

But, right now, there are few programs bridging the school, the kids and psychologists.

To learn more about survivor support groups in the area, click here.

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