MARQUETTE - Marquette Area Public Schools will host a training session tonight for community members interested in suicide prevention.
The training - which aims to help increase awareness of a problem that is often suffered in silence - will be from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Shirley Smith Little Theatre at Marquette Senior High School.
MSHS guidance counselor Patti Karwoski said the event is meant to help diffuse the stigma attached to talking about suicide, a subject that hits close to home for Karwoski.
"My husband's son died by suicide," Karwoski said. "There are many people in this community where we've been touched by it personally as well as professionally and we want to help it be talked about more, so there's not this stale silence around it."
Participants in the program will receive the same training that will be offered to local educators earlier in the day by the "Question, Persuade, Refer" Institute. Called "Gatekeeper Training," the program is nationally recognized and teaches fundamental principles of suicide prevention.
Following the death of an MSHS student last school year, and the deaths of other young people in some surrounding school districts over the last year, the MAPS district crisis team has continued to meet with the goal of developing a system-wide suicide prevention plan.
The goal, beginning with an all-day training session with educators from across the county, is to send two well-qualified "gatekeepers" back to their respective districts to offer training sessions for other staff members.
"My hope would be that if this can keep the momentum going that we would eventually bring this training to students ... because the kids are the one who might get the text message in the middle of the night that a kid is depressed and knowing how to access support is the next step," Karowski said.
Team members will be taught basic skills to recognize a person at risk of suicide and to connect that person to professional help. MAPS is bringing in a "train the trainer" professional from the QPR Institute to run the program.
Teams of two from Negaunee, Ishpeming, Westwood, and Gwinn school systems have also been invited to to join the session.
Funds are still being raised to help offset the cost of the event. Anyone wishing to make a donation can contact Karwoski at 225-5368.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.