Schools to observe suicide prevention day
Grand Coulee Dam District schools will take part and allow Native students to participate in a Colville Indian suicide prevention day this Friday.
Karee Picard, manager of the Colville Tribes’ K-12 Youth Program, appeared before the school board Monday night asking members to allow a minute of silence during lunch hour Friday to remember those on the reservation who have succumbed because of suicide.
She told the board that the Friday suicide program will be held in four places on the reservations and last most of the day. Meetings will be held in Omak, Nespelem, Keller and Inchelium.
The board voted to have schools observe a minute of silence on Friday as close to the noon hour as possible.
But when it came to making it possible for Native students to attend the reservation events, that ran into trouble.
While it eventually passed the board, Director Ted Picollo said he had a problem with it. He has consistently opposed any events that take students out of the classrooms. He said he wasn’t opposed to the event, just to making it possible for kids to miss school.
Board Director Susan Chaffee countered. “That’s the role of the board, to see that kids participate in these types of things,” she said.
Picard said there would be people at the events to make certain that students attending had the proper excuse notices in their possession.
In the end, all school board members voted for the idea.
The suicide prevention day came about after an emergency resolution passed by the Colville Business Council.
The emergency resolution chairman of the Business Council, Michael O. Finley, decided to declare “a state of emergency on the Colville Reservation in response to the current high rate of youth and adult suicide in the reservation community.”
A few years ago, the Colville Tribes received a grant to deal with the growing number of suicides on the reservation and “natural helpers” were established in the four areas of the reservation. One of the helpers, Deby Stanger, said Friday would be a “sacred day.” She said programs would counter feelings by some youth that “glorify” suicide.
“Those taking their own lives leave a lot of hurt behind and need to know that life is sacred,” she said.