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Elmbrook Schools launch suicide prevention plan

Posted at 4:59 PM, Mar 09, 2016

A local school district is taking action after two students committed suicide just this year.

Now the district has a new plan to educate students, staff and the community about depression warning signs.
It's a mental health problem that's growing across the country.

From the outside, you can't tell that there are fewer students at Brookfield East and Brookfield Central, but they are two seniors short.

“One of the things that we've experienced this semester in this system is loss,” Elmbrook School Director of Student Services Tanya Fredrich said.

They are the first students to kill themselves in that district in just about five years. The last student suicide was in 2011.

“We've had a very large community response about really wanting to learn more about what's happening in our youth,” Frederich said.

“It's been sad hearing that kind of stuff happens right here,” Elizabeth Schmidt said. Schmidt has three children who will go through the Elmbrook School District.

And if you're thinking, things are different where you live, you're wrong.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 20% of 13 to 18 year olds experience severe mental disorders.

Here in Wisconsin, according to the Department of Public Instruction, suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people; and Wisconsin's youth suicide rate has been higher than the national rate for 29 of the last 32 years.

“We realized this isn't a problem that school systems are going to solve themselves, it really takes an all hands on deck approach,” Fredrich said.

So Elmbrook is doing something different to help spot anxiety and depression, more training for staff members and eventually students, but they'll also be focusing on the community, educating parents.

“Any little thing will help. Anything to get involved in your kids lives' more and they talk more about it at school or whatever they need to do to make them understand what that means,” Schmidt said.

Some of the new training for staff members has already started. School officials are still trying to figure out the best way to get students involved and plan to send out information to community members in the next couple weeks about training for them.