Local News

State grant funds suicide outreach at PHS

A state grant is funding education and outreach efforts for suicide prevention at Petersburg High School this year.

The four-year, 25-thousand dollar grant from the state Department of Education was awarded to the school district. The district has contracted with Petersburg Mental Health Services to provide services for suicide prevention.

Mental Health’s Kim Kilkenny reported to Petersburg’s school board Tuesday on some of the recent grim statistics in Petersburg. “Since 2005 we’ve had three homicides, five suicides, 32 documented suicide attempts, four drug related deaths, 20 documented alcohol and drug related overdose and accidents,” Kilkenny said. She also noted several lockdowns and threats of gun violence in the community last year.

PMHS’s Robin Cooley told the board she’s working with school counselor Rachel Etcher to implement the grant at the high school. “We’ve been going into classrooms for the ninth through 12th grade and doing suicide prevention and education on how do you respond if you find out one of your friends might be suicide or maybe you’re seeing warning signs and you’re concerned about them. So we’re doing a lot of psych-education on depression and suicide. It’s all based on going and finding a trusted adult. And so because I’m implementing that I’m also holding hours at the school now too which helps us to integrate with our mental health here locally but I can meet with kids at the school.”

Cooley is using a classroom at the school as an office for meeting with kids as needed. She said she can also meet with students or parents at the Mental Health office.

In other news, the elementary school held a lockdown drill Monday. Principal Erica Kludt-Painter said it went well. “It was the first one that we’ve had this year and we did quite a bit of prepping of kids and we sort of let everyone know, this first one was coming kind of like the evacuation drill,” Kludt-Painter said. “Of course it went well and we did work a few communication bugs out, which is always good. That whole pool-gym area is still just challenging but it’s good to have drills, that’s why, then we figure out what’s working and what’s not.”

The board also approved the sale or disposal of a van, a tractor, a signature machine and some wireless routers.

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