Local News

Addressing Mental Health In Schools

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Many are still in shock over the news of a 9-year-old boy in Denver taking his own life after being bullied.

With our suicide rates here in Mesa County being almost double the average US rate, it's an issue that hits close to home.

After hearing about Jamel Miles taking his own life in Denver after being bullied, Christina Critchfield couldn't help but reflect on her experience with her own children.

"Everyday you wake up thinking, "Are they going to do something today? Am I going to wake up today and not find them here?," said Critchfield.

In 2017 there were 45 total deaths by suicide in Mesa County. 11% of those were people under the age of 20.

"We need to be there for all of them. It's a big circle that we need to work on," Critchfield said.

In June of 2017, District 51 passed a new policy specific to suicide prevention.

"It goes beyond our teachers but also includes our nutrition services, custodial staff, all of our paraprofessionals," said Genevieve Morris, Suicide Prevention Specialist with School District 51.

Students within the district also receive suicide prevention and resilience training.

"Learning how to make healthy choices, healthy boundaries, dealing with substance abuse. All of those things," said Morris.

Above all, those with D51 said it starts with parents having open conversations with their kids.

"If something's going on where your being bullied by another kid or you see another kid, don't be afraid to say something," said Critchfield.

When they aren't speaking up, behavior can also be an indication that something is wrong.

"Just happy kids and then you'll notice just a decline in it," Critchfield said.

Noticing those signs, may have helped Critchfield prevent her kids from doing the unthinkable.

Critchfield is also part of a local group called Mesa County Moms Against Bullying.

They encourage anyone interested in learning more about this issue to stop by one of their meetings. More information can be found on their Facebook page.


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