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Tackling Teen Suicide With Awareness And Prevention

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     Tackling the issue of teen suicide.  The Centers for Disease Control says about 4,600 young lives are lost each year including several recent deaths in our area. All of this brought dozens together Tuesday night in Davenport hoping to make a change. 

      It's the third leading cause of death for those between age 10 and 24 but community leaders say they've seen it impact too many students and families recently. They felt now was an important time to get the conversation going and bring those facing this issue together with the local resources that can help.

     Dawn Knuton lost her 16-year old son to suicide in 1999. She shared her story to a room full of parents and students at Davenport North High School. Knutson said she made the choice to turn that tragedy into a positive purpose even though 15 years ago she and her family felt very alone.  

     "There was really no body to call to talk to, schools were afraid to mention the word suicide," said Knutson. 

     Today that's not the case, though many may not be aware of what help is out there for those impacted after suicide and especially for anyone who is personally struggling with the issue.

     "There's a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress, a lot of factors going on with these kids and I think some of them are ill equipped to deal with it," said parent Sherry Contos. 

     Davenport community leaders brought together more than a dozen local service organizations that deal with youth and/or mental health and say education is the first step. They told the crowd that making change isn't just the school's job or the city's job, it's everyone that needs to get involved and recognize the signs someone needs help.

     Adults told students that it's okay to talk to them. Some students say they're coordinating their own efforts to help their peers. Emilee Donelson had this message: "You are worth it. You are needed. You're loved and you're cared for whether you know it or not."

     Davenport school leaders are looking into a program to train teachers with how to help troubled teens in the classroom. Right now Superintendent Dr. Art Tate says it's mostly guidance counselors who are equipped with those skills.
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