Canopy Children’s Solutions’ (Canopy) has formed the Zero Suicide Task Force, a committee designed to meet at-risk children and young adults where they are and provide the help they need. With comprehensive assessments, proper treatment and meaningful relationships, the members of Canopy’s Zero Suicide Task Force firmly believe they can help children who are struggling.
Shannon Prince, Mississippi Youth Programs Around the Clock (MYPAC) Supervisor and Task Force member, is passionate about this topic. After attending a Zero Suicide conference, Shannon and other committee members reframed Canopy’s suicide protocol to ensure each at-risk child they encounter can receive the unique care he or she may need. While some children may need stabilization in an acute care facility, others may need frequent therapy and/or medication. Along with other task force members, Shannon began using these more comprehensive assessments so Canopy could better tailor each child’s treatment plan to his or her individual needs.
Along with the Zero Suicide Task Force, Canopy hosts a Youth Ambassador program throughout the year. This program is designed to educate students in middle and high school about the connection between physical and mental health as well as the science of hope. By focusing on topics such as mindfulness and hope, the Youth Ambassador program teaches students practical methods for managing emotions.
Marcus Ginn, Canopy’s Donor Relations Manager, is an advocate dedicated to educating communities on how to prevent suicide after losing his own father to suicide. “If I could prevent just one person from having to go through what I went through, that would be a success,” Marcus says. “It’s okay to have bad feelings, and it’s okay to express those feelings.”
Shannon and Marcus both agree that the easiest and most effective way to prevent suicide is to talk to someone. “Vulnerability is a strength. It’s not a weakness,” says Marcus. “We have to take the stigma out of sharing our feelings.”
If a parent or guardian believes their child is struggling with suicidal thoughts, the Zero Suicide Task Force encourages finding someone the child can speak with openly and honestly. Worried about upsetting their parents, many children hold their feelings inside rather than expressing them. A trusted adult who can listen without judgement, such as a teacher, coach or therapist, can be life-saving for a child who may be struggling. The task force encourages parents and guardians to reach out to Canopy or similar organizations so they can assist in connecting the child to services or resources he or she may need.
To students struggling with suicidal thoughts or actions, the Zero Suicide Task Force encourages you to reach out to someone to whom you feel comfortable talking with. “One of our core values is: relationships matter,” Shannon says. “Talk to somebody. Whether it be a teacher, a parent, a school counselor. Talk to somebody.”
Those struggling with suicidal behavior or ideations can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by texting or calling 988 or 1.800.273.8255 any time day or night to speak with someone for help.
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