Valley school district launches program to help youth fight suicidal thoughts

Sep 1, 2023, 4:25 AM

Hope Institute future location...

(Chandler Unified School District Photo)

(Chandler Unified School District Photo)

PHOENIX — One Valley school district recently launched a program at a new facility to help youth overcome suicidal thoughts.

The Chandler Unified School District opened the Hope Institute, which vows to go beyond traditional treatment methods for suicide prevention, CEO of the institute Derek Lee told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Thursday.

At the Hope Institute, patients will work with health officials to set goals, which will be measured over 6 weeks, he said.

“Depending on the needs of the student, they can be seen anywhere from one to four times a week, and that can also be a combination of individual and group sessions,” Lee said.

This form of treatment stands out from the rest, Lee explained, as typical treatments for suicidal individuals don’t have ways of measuring progress over long periods of time.

Lee said that the biggest barrier for students asking for help likely has to do more with shame than embarrassment.

“Students are made to feel like there’s something wrong with them, like they can’t talk about it, like they’re broken, and they’re not,” Lee said.

“Our kids today are going through really complex times and they’re smarter than — I mean frankly — they’re smarter than we were, they’re more mature than we were, and because they come across as more mature, we often give them more responsibilities than their young developing brains really still aren’t ready for.”

Lee said students are being given next-day appointments, and everyone’s journey is unique. Though the average treatment time takes six weeks, some students may finish it earlier or a bit later.

To learn more about programs and other schools in the district, visit online.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Anyone who needs services can call the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.

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Valley school district launches program to help youth fight suicidal thoughts