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Suicide prevention group trains people to help start conversations on difficult topics

Suicide prevention is a communitywide effort, but it starts with opening the right dialogue with those in trouble.

The Gem State consistently ranks among the states with the highest suicide rates.

“Idaho is always in the number you don’t want them to be,” said Sheila Murdock, the chair of Community Suicide Prevention.

According to Community Suicide Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Idahoans ages 15-34 and for males up to age 44. The organization hopes to lower these statistics.

“Just talking about it is big,” Murdock said. “We have to talk about it. Let’s get rid of the stigma.”

Murdock and three other members of Community Suicide Prevention were able to get training in mental health and first aid. These trainers are able to use what they’ve learned and go forth to teach others.

The four trainers got certified in April. They said they have educated about 70 to 80 people so far.

“(It’s about) how people know what signs to look for someone who has depression, anxiety and who has suicidal thoughts,” Murdock said.

The trainers hold eight-hour classes. They aim to teach how to recognize when someone is in a crisis and how to respond.

“When they learn that you can talk about suicide without causing someone to think about it on their own, you see a relaxed relief of, ‘I know what to do, I know what to say,'” Murdock said.

One of the trainers got certified for her own personal reasons.

“I wanted to help people,” said Bonny Jennings. “I lost a daughter to suicide.”

Jennings said that she does not want her own experiences to happen to others.

“I think I can help people (by recognizing) the signs, ” Jennings said. “I hardly ever talked about it. This helped to be able to talk about it, learn ways to talk about it and know that it is OK.”

Jennings put some of her skills to the test on a recent Boy Scout trip.

“We had a young man that was not doing too well during the week,” Jennings said. “I talked to him, and he felt good that somebody would actually talk to him about that while he was having some issues. But if I hadn’t taken this class, I don’t think I would have said some of the things I would have said.”

Even if sometimes starting that conversation is tough, Community Suicide Prevention believes it needs to be done.

“I start thinking about how I felt after we lost our daughter, and I don’t want anybody to go through that,” Jennings said. “If I can help one person, it makes me feel good.”

To have a group training, contact Community Suicide Prevention at 208-243-9411.

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