Organizers with the Suicide Prevention and Awareness Network (SPAN) of Benewah County are seeking the help of citizens and other organizations in the community.
SPAN is an organization that operates throughout most of north Idaho and the local Benewah County chapter has made its mark on the community over the last few years. The group has offered grief support group sessions, resources and more for those grieving or in need of support.
Organizers of SPAN said they have started to notice a growth in need among youth in the community, citing that last November’s string of deaths in the community had a profound impact on local students.
The group now seeks the community’s help to support local youth who may be grieving.
“We had 60 some kids participate in our poster contest this year, and I can’t tell you how many showed up at our walk now,” Kristi Scott said. “They are interested in what we are doing, they want to know and be a part of it.”
Representatives with SPAN said they are noticing some of the youth in the community who may be grieving are seeking out other organizations for help. Hank Thornton said he has had students reach out to him, saying they were to embarrassed to seek counseling at school or there were no counseling options available.
“After that bad week in November, we set up at the fairgrounds grief counseling and we didn’t expect to be flooded with people,” Thornton said. “ We had three parents come in with their students.”
“We got them to talk a little bit, and it just flooded out,” he added. “When it was over, their parents were so grateful that their children had opened up.”
Thornton said he had spoke with another youth who said when he was grieving he would go to the Nazarene Church to participate in its weekly youth group to feel better. He also said the Veteran’s Outreach Center has opened up to assist children who have nowhere to go to talk to someone or get resources for help.
“What would today look like if we didn’t have the veterans or the church to have helped those kids,” Carrie Nordin said.
Organizers with SPAN said they want to address the need by working with local entities to make suicide prevention materials and access to counseling more widely available not only for adults but for children too.
They also want to make parents and community members aware of the underlying issue and are calling for support.
“It’s needed and it’s wanted. We just need to break that barrier so that we can make it available,” Thornton said.
Those who want to work with SPAN can email the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those who are in need of assistance can contact Thornton at 208-582-4330.
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