New district handbook provides community resources for suicide aftermath

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- Dealing with the prevention of suicide is often talked about in schools, but what about the aftermath of one?

The Chippewa Falls School District is looking to address exactly that in the first of its kind Suicide Postvention Handbook for the Chippewa Valley.

The handbook includes background statistics about suicide, provides information on grief, how people process grief, as well as a variety of practices including how to communicate using safe messaging, what kind of memorials should be used and what advocacy looks like.

Chippewa Falls mother of two, Rolanda Rada, says she can see how the district spearheading the effort will benefit students and their families.

Rada said, “There's so many kids with different issues and not everyone throughout the school system is aware of that, what each child is dealing with, so I think it's really an important resource that all the students can utilize.”

Superintendent Dr. Heidi Eliopoulos says the handbooks creation began with a two-day training in February after community leaders realized there was a gap in the support system dealing with suicide.

“We had a lot of resources in place for suicide prevention but we didn't have resources in place guiding us in what to do after a suicide,” said Eliopoulos.

With the help of national experts as well as local funeral homes, hospitals, and faith organizations the district came up with postvention best practices that may even help prevent future suicides.

“We know that after a suicide there may be other vulnerable populations who are also impacted by that so across our community if we're using best practices for postvention it can become prevention,” added Eliopoulos.

One of the main components of the handbook is connecting families in need with community organizations like Chippewa Valley Bible Church who can help them in their time of need.

Youth director Alan Dunham said, “The faith community plays an important role in supporting families and being a gathering place for people to grieve and come together and talk together and look ahead”

The church says even if one organization doesn't work there are plenty more resources in the handbook for families to reach out.

Dunham explained, “There's not a one size fits all so the bigger range of resources I have the more likely I'll be able to help someone.”

The district says this handbook won't just be put to use in the Chippewa falls area but it aims To share it with all surrounding communities.

The district also implemented a Sources of Strength high school curriculum this fall that teaches student how to call on their strengths and have a network of support to prevent suicide.



 
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