Sundance Times - Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

Our view


August 29, 2019

Talking about a sensitive topic is difficult; looking for ways to solve that problem is often a whole lot harder. We would like to commend both the Crook County School District and the concerned parents who have brought the issue of youth suicide to the fore and thank them for looking for ways to lower the alarming rates we have been seeing in this region.

As Jess Donnell said at the school board meeting last week, staying quiet about the issue doesn’t seem to be helping. There has always been an unspoken belief that we shouldn’t talk about suicide, as though whispering its name could summon its attention.

We have the third highest suicide rate in the nation here in Wyoming. Not talking about it or taking a long, hard look at the reasons it can happen is clearly not the answer, so perhaps it’s time to try something new.

That’s what Doug and Jess Donnell and their supporters are doing by raising this issue. They believe this discussion needs to be held and that there could be concrete ways to make improvements. In the wake of their own terrible loss, the Donnells would like to see changes made for the better.

We’re happy the district allowed discussion on this topic rather than taking the matter to executive session. The Board of Trustees and concerned parents all spoke politely, respectfully and with emotion during last week’s discussion.

This is a topic that clearly touched every one of them deeply. Of course, we don’t believe there is a person in this county who wouldn’t support efforts to keep our kids safer.

Suicide is perhaps the most difficult of all subjects to talk about. It may interest you to know that guidelines exist for newspapers, encouraging us to, for example, avoid publishing details and be careful about the words we choose to use.

What those guidelines do not do is mandate that we must not talk about it at all. We will admit that it’s very easy even for those of us whose job it is to report the news to fall prey to the thought that it might be better to avoid the topic altogether.

We don’t want to suggest that the answer has already been found, but it’s surely a step in a positive direction to start that conversation. What those involved in last week’s conversation wanted, above all else, was to find ways to help our kids when they feel taking their own lives is the only answer.

We can all help. Educating ourselves about the signs of suicidal feelings, how to help and who to contact is a great first step. We have resources available, we have willing public servants and a willing community in which we care about each other’s wellbeing.

We may not yet have solutions, but we feel it would be in the best interests of the whole community to pick up this ball and run with it, no matter how hard that might seem.


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