Sanford students recognized for suicide prevention efforts

From left to right: Erin Scholfield, SLVBHG school-based behavioral health specialist, Victoria Romero, SLVBHG chief operating officer; Riley Canty and Cheyenne Caldon, Sanford High School freshmen and Bonnie Ortega, SLVBHG clinical supervisor. Not pictured are seniors Karley Caldon, Lauren Canty and Chelsea Edgar.

SANFORD — Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youths ages 15-24, but five Sanford Students are working to put an end to suicide in their community.
On May 15, the San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group (SLVBHG) recognized five students in a school assembly for their valiant efforts to increase suicide awareness.
Cheyenne Caldon and Riley Canty, freshmen at the Sanford High School, gave a presentation to the 7th-grade class regarding how to use communication to eliminate suicide. They also organized a “suicide prevention week” where the students were encouraged to wear yellow as a visual reminder of the importance of suicide awareness. They also challenged the student body to speak with two individuals they do not normally speak with or to do something nice for two people that week.
Karley Caldon, Lauren Canty and Chelsea Edgar, seniors at the Sanford High School, focused their efforts on the freshmen class, local youth groups, and community members. Their presentations focused on the warning signs of suicide, what to do, how to communicate, and where to get help. They also put positive sayings on the bathroom stalls, created a positive box where students could get an uplifting saying to lift their spirits. They even created a suicide awareness video, which will be posted on the school’s website and strived to provide parents with information about suicide.  
Suicidal thoughts, much like behavioral/mental health conditions, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. In fact, suicide is often the result of an untreated behavioral/mental health condition. Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues. Each year, more than 44,000 individuals die by suicide, leaving behind their friends and family members to navigate the tragedy of loss. In many cases, friends and families affected by a suicide loss (often called “suicide loss survivors”) are left in the dark. Too often the feelings of shame and stigma prevent them from talking openly.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month — a time to share resources and stories in an effort to shed light on this highly taboo and stigmatized topic. We use this month to reach out to those affected by suicide, raise awareness and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services. It is also important to ensure that individuals, friends, and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention.
“Some parents have expressed concern about introducing the topic of suicide to their children, fearing they may put the idea in their head. However, research strongly supports the opposite, the more we introduce and talk about suicide, the less it occurs,” said Erin Scholfield, SLVBHG’s School-based Behavioral Health Specialist – assigned to work with students in the Sanford School District.
Scholfield continued by sharing a few things to look for…
• Serious depression – feelings of worthlessness, guilt or hopelessness, or a sudden drop in school/ work performance.
• Change in appetite, weight, sleep habits or energy level
• Increasing isolation
• Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
• Loss of interest in favorite ac• tivities
• Giving away prized possessions
• Preoccupations with death and dying – say they want to die or can’t live like this anymore.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide there are many resources available. You can reach the Colorado Crisis Services by calling 844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255. You can also call the SLVBHG local hotline, 719.589.3671. To speak with someone face-to-face, vist the Mi Esperanza Wellness Center, SLVBHG’s Walk-in Crisis Center is also available to anyone 24/7, free of charge. For more information about the Wellness Center, call 719.589.3671 or visit


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