WNCC student coordinates suicide prevention training class

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SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. - (KNEP) - After witnessing firsthand the impact suicide and suicidal thoughts can have on someone, a Western Nebraska Community College surgical technologist student helps set up a training program.

Shelby Benson is a sophomore at WNCC, but when she was 16 her mother came up to her with news no one is ready to ever hear. Her mother wanted to commit suicide, Benson stated she didn’t go through with it but at a young age Benson wasn’t sure where to go for help.

Benson admitted she went to school the next day worried because she didn’t know what she was going to come home to. Later that day she went to a friend’s mom asking what to do. But, even her friend’s mom was unsure. Benson was worried about going to counselors and never really got an answer on what to do or where to turn.

It wasn’t until recently when a Google search prompted a training program called QPR; which stands for question, persuade and refer. Benson started by contacting Region 1 to learn more about this program and was quickly transferred to the Panhandle Partnership; who is helping host the training at the college.

The President of the Lambda Pi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa said she also had friends who ultimately committed suicide and is now propelled to helping others. She will even go out of her way if she sees a social media post and ask if that person is okay.

According to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in 2018, the state ranked 37th in the country for suicide rate with 246 throughout the year. It however is the 10th leading cause of death in the state and 2nd leading cause for those age 15-34.

Benson went to a few community events last year where it all seemed to be the same; parents asking for help and constantly hearing the same answer of just talk to your child. She believes this is hard because teenagers especially aren’t willing to talk about it.

The training, Monday, April 15th from 5:30pm to 7:30pm at the Harms Center on WNCC Scottsbluff campus, will give those attending an opportunity to learn the warning signs and develop talking points. Benson believes this will help in the fight to end the stigma behind suicide and mental health. After the training each person will receive a ‘gatekeeper’ certificate which is like the first responder to those who need help.

Benson said the training is free and open to the public. She will continue to move forward and help those who need it the most.