Focus 203’s Community Conversation about Suicide

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Naperville Community School District 203 held its latest Focus 203 discussion about suicide.

District faculty, staff, parents, and students were invited to join the conversation and workshop.

“I have a friend who is struggling with suicide, and I wanted to learn more about suicide as well as how to deal with it, how it’s viewed in this community, and things like that,” said Caleb Frank, a junior at Naperville Central. “Because honestly I don’t think I was ready to handle my friend because I’ve never had this before so I just wanted to become educated.”

And giving some tips to the audience was featured speaker Jonathan Singer, a professor at Loyola University, an author, and a suicide intervention expert.

“Talking with teens often times looks like saying ‘oh that’s interesting, tell me more.’ It’s not about saying ‘oh let’s fix this problem,’ or ‘what are you going to do about that?’ It’s not about problem solving for them, it’s about providing the space to learn more about what’s going on,” said Singer.

In Singer’s “Community Conversation about Suicide” he also discussed suicide myths and facts, risk factors and warning signs, and suicide statistics in DuPage County.

Some parents expressed how happy they were to see the district engage in a suicide conversation.

“That the district wants to hear what ideas others have, that the majority of answers we’re given involve the community and not just the school and I really think that’s the key,” said Carrie Diaz, a mom of Naperville North students. “I think the school district, the fact that they want to collaborate with the community, is huge. And that the parents really care, that they want to show that they’re participating.”

After the presentation, a group workshop activity had tables discussing ways to help reduce teen suicide rates, which were later shared with the entire audience.

“Just try and find some solutions instead of just admiring the problem,” said attendee Katy Lynch, principal of Meadow Glens Elementary. “Look at some short term and long term solutions to helping kids, adults, our community, with mental health issues and with suicide in general.”

This was the largest and most diverse turnout for a Focus 203 discussion since the series began in 2014.

Bringing the community together for an important district conversation.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.