BUTTE – In 2013, Butte formed a committee to address a rash of youth suicides. When 2014 arrived, three Butte teens took their own lives over a six-week period.
“There were about 15 of us in a room in the courthouse looking at each other scared to death. We had kids dying,” said Butte Health Officer Karen Sullivan.
Since that time, the Community Action Teen reports that the rate of youth in Butte attempting suicide has dropped by 5 percent in three years. Intervention and training teachers and parents in recognizing suicidal behavior are credited for moving the rate from 17 percent to 12 percent.
“Given that 500 adults are not more in tuned in what to look for I think that has had a great effect, we have trained almost 1,500 students in the signs of suicide training,” Sullivan said.
Officials have been encouraged that Butte had a long run without a youth completing a suicide, but that optimism was shaken last month by the suicide of an elementary school student in Butte.
“That little child was everyone’s child. We’re all affected by it, traumatized by it. He was everyone’s child and it redoubles our resolve to keep going,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan added that 12 percent of youth considering suicide is still too high and the committee will continue working until that number hits zero.