Neenah turns suicide prevention conversation around with "Sources of Strength"

Published: Oct. 9, 2017 at 4:24 PM CDT
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The Neenah Joint School District says more can always be done to educate and guide students through mental health struggles.

That's why the district is trying to turn the conversation about suicide on its head.

Senior Nina Duffeck is more confident now when talking to her peers about struggles.

"It's easier to go up to them and say where are you struggling in your life and find the places you can add different strengths," said Duffeck.

The national program called "Sources of Strength" helps to connect students to several sources; be it positive friends, mentors, or family support.

The district’s mental health coordinator Dr. Michael Altekruse says it turns the conversation away from statistics which have the ability to traumatize.

"What really works is when you can promote what you can do, not what you should avoid,” Altekruse said. "So this is about what you can do to promote yourself and promote better health."

About 100 students at Neenah High School were nominated by teachers. The goal is for them to become leaders in spreading hope, help, and strength.

"The things we're doing as adults whether, in a teacher role or a parental role, are important,” Nathan Koenecke, Neenah Math Teacher said. “But actually having peers support each other in these different areas of their lives are exponentially bigger."

The 100 students get together to brainstorm ideas to promote the resources throughout the school.

Students are also ready to put them into practice.

"Oh, it's going to give me a lot of good experience to be able to talk to people and communicate with people," said Neenah Senior Dallas Cavegn.

Neenah says the sources of strength program is also being utilized by the Hortonville, Appleton, and Oshkosh school districts.