Suicide in youth can sometimes be the most difficult to detect, but a new program seeks to give adults the resources they need to identify it.
While groups were raising money for The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention during the La Salle County Out of Darkness walk on Saturday in Ottawa, the organization also announced a new program coming to the area next month.
Board member Mike Bushman attended the event and announced a Youth Mental Health First Aid training for Saturday, Nov. 2, in the 807 Building in Ottawa will be funded by the organization that parents, coaches and teachers are encouraged to attend.
"Most teens who struggle will turn to other teens, they rarely will say something to an adult," Bushman said to The Times. "So the adult has to look at not just what they say but their mood and behavior. So (this class) will talk them through that process."
The nine-hour course will go over both signs to look for as well as how to begin a dialogue with someone they believe is struggling.
For Bushman, it's a particularly important topic as his high school years were the worst for him when it came to dealing with suicidal thoughts.
"I didn't know how to say it. I didn't have the words to express what I was feeling. I didn't even understand what was going on and nobody really talked about mental health or suicidal issues or talked about the related issues," he said.
The organization also continues to finance research into new treatment methodologies and other topics, such as the impact social media has on those struggling, as well as special challenges in rural communities.
Bushman said Alexis Ferracuti, the event's chairperson, has advocated for more mental health programs in the area and AFSP will continue to bring more in the future.
He also updated the crowd to other advances in mental health, such as the formation of a national, three-digit suicide prevention hotline which is still being created. Bushman said in a crisis, the 1-800-273-8255 can be difficult to remember.
The organization is also preparing to introduce a new "life experience" training program designed to help family members and friends of those struggling to be supportive of loved ones.
The program will debut in a couple of weeks and Bushman said he hopes to bring it back to this area as well in the future.