Back to School Appeal
September is National Suicide Prevention Month and Youth Services feels the importance of this every day. The demand for our crisis intervention program with local schools continues to grow – nearly 25% in the last year. Youth Services is here to help. We know that connecting to support can change a life. And you make that possible.
Like you, I have been alarmed by the startling rise in the numbers of suicides in our country – especially amongst our youth. I am driven every day to be sure Youth Services is doing all we can to ensure every family in our area feels safe and well supported in the face of this tragic upswing. As we prepare for another school year I am hoping you will help make that possible.
Several years ago there was a cluster of suicides at Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South High Schools after similar clusters occurred at New Trier and Lake Forest High Schools. We witnessed how deeply these tragedies affected entire communities of families, friends, neighbors, and classmates who lived through the traumatic aftermath suicide often leaves in its wake.
Youth Services was brought in to help support the students through this crisis and then stayed on as a member of the necessary follow-up conversations: How do we respond to ensure these tragedies do not occur again? From those difficult questions our Crisis Intervention partnership was born. Each week school therapists call Youth Services for support in assessing students who are exhibiting suicidal ideation or at-risk behaviors that may make them a danger to themselves or other students.
The program is simple in theory: A school staff member calls Youth Services to alert us of a need for a health and safety assessment. Our promised response time is 30 minutes in which we strive to find an available clinician who can dedicate a portion of their day to ensuring the safety of the student. Once deployed, Youth Services staff may spend anywhere from an hour to ten hours with the child and family depending on the severity of the situation. For a small staff of clinicians, the demand these calls put on our agency and their unpredictable nature is significant.
In the 2017/2018 school year alone, our crisis response calls increased by nearly 25% and we are confident this number will continue to rise, as will the critical nature of these calls. What started as a partnership with two high schools is now an imperative program working with six local schools – with many more asking for our services. When you consider that in the US, the suicide rate has risen by more than 30% (23% specifically in Illinois) since 1999, our response is more important now than ever.
As we look to another school year, please consider how you can ensure we are able to meet the need of our local schools and families by making an investment in our Crisis Intervention program. Every dollar we receive in response will be dedicated to ensuring more students are kept safe and receive the support they desperately need.
Thank you for your continued generosity and support of Youth Services.
Amy O’Leary, LCSW
Your support will ensure each child who comes through our doors has the opportunity to grow up happy, healthy, and with hope.