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Wisconsin school district starts suicide prevention program

Posted September 3

— A northwestern Wisconsin school district will launch a program that aims to teach kids how to persevere through life's challenges and look for positive outcomes.

The Chippewa Falls school district will start offering the national Sources of Strength program this fall, the Leader-Telegram of Eau Claire reported .

The Sources of Strength program is essentially a suicide prevention program that originated in North Dakota in 1998.

Chippewa Falls High School psychology teacher Virginia Welle said the program tries to encourage students to build positive and stable emotional bonds with each other.

"It teaches them skills for coping with problems," she said. "It's no secret that students have been struggling with mental health problems."

Welle said the program's approach means most students won't recognize it as a suicide prevention program.

"They'll be learning about their character strengths and who they can turn to if they are in trouble," Welle said.

High school principal Becky Davis said a private donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, contributed the $5,000 needed to fund the program.

"They had seen the struggles and sorrows we have had in the past few years," Davis said of the donor.

The program has student leaders teaching leading their peers through the activities.

"We've been looking for a number of years for a way to help our kids at the front end, before they become down, depressed and at-risk," Davis said. "If we help kids understand it — that there is a light at the end of the tunnel — it's how we manage those kids to get them through that."

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