Teen suicide is a significant problem nationwide and in particular on the Seacoast, which spurred Exeter Hospital to launch a 5-year initiative earlier this year to address its underlying causes.
To combat teen suicide, Meme Wheeler of Chase Home, principal member along with New Heights behind one of 11 projects funded by Exeter Hospital, said training of agencies that routinely work with teens is critical.
“It’s critical we help staff understand what signs to look for and how to help—this includes our staff,” she said.
Noting their group will host a training on November 17 at the Community Campus in Portsmouth, she said she and several Chase Home staff will attend an educational workshop by nonprofit HAVEN on November 3. At the HAVEN training, participants will gain practical skills for identifying and responding to warning signs of suicide as well as an understanding how to implement a trauma-informed approach.
“It’s a workshop geared toward mental health practitioners, behavioral health professionals, school counselors, and others who work with youth—it will be a great resource for us,” she said. “HAVEN is one of the other nonprofits funded through Exeter Hospital, so it makes sense for us to collaborate as much as possible.”
HAVEN, formerly known as A Safe Place and SASS officially merged in July of 2015 becoming the largest violence prevention and support services agency in NH.
Located in Portsmouth, HAVEN’s mission is “to prevent sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking and to support and empower women, men, youth and families to heal from abuse and rebuild their lives.”
“Education and training is the first step in the fight again teen suicide,” Wheeler said. “I urge anyone who works with youth to consider the HAVEN training and our training in November, which will be taught by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.”
In commenting on the importance of HAVEN training, Wheeler said trauma lies at the heart of their work at Chase Home.
“We work with kids who have been through significant trauma—abuse, neglect, caregiver addiction, substance use and misuse—that’s just part of what we deal with every day,” she said.
Founded in 1877 in Portsmouth, Chase Home serves youth and families in crisis in the greater Seacoast region and across the state.