BATAVIA — With the majority of a $12,500 Pediatric Suicide Prevention Community Grant soon to be in its possession, the Batavia City School District’s assignment is to identify and address gaps in youth suicide prevention services in the Batavia community.
The grant is from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The district plans to expand its Sources of Strength program. The mission of Sources of Strength is to prevent suicide by increasing help-seeking behaviors and promoting connections between peers and caring adults.
Sources of Strength program works monthly with the Batavia High School student body through proactive campaigns, works alongside community agencies to bridge the connection between school and community, and helps build additional connections for students who may need support. Together, BCSD encourages Sources of Strength students to be leaders and mental health ambassadors.
“Sources of Strength came to our district about six years ago when Scott Wilson was the principal at BHS (Batavia High School),” said Community Schools Coordinator Julia Rogers. “It (the grant) is all earmarked to go to Sources of Strength for various activities to be done at the buildings and in the community. We receive $10,000 now and the rest after a final report is submitted in June.”
Rogers said securing this grant was a collaborative process across the Batavia community.
“It’s essential that we take a community-based approach toward suicide prevention and mental health, and I would like to thank those who were instrumental in supporting our efforts, including Lynda Battaglia, Genesee director of Mental Health & Community Services; Sue Gagne, Suicide Prevention Coalition of Genesee County; Sherry Crumity, Rose Howard, and Heidi Meides-Judge from BCSD; and the BCSD Community Schools Integrated Supports Committee.”
Superintendent Jason Smith said the district is proud and grateful to have received the grant from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“These funds will add significant resources to our Sources of Strength program and allow us to continue to do the important and necessary work to support the mental health needs of students across BCSD,” he said.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, suicide and suicidal behavior among youth and young adults is a major public health crisis. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10-24 in the United States, and rates have been rising for decades. Suicide affects all populations: youth of any race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or community may be at risk for suicide. However, systemic inequities and social determinants of health have led to significant disparities in suicide rates, risk, and care for youth across cultures and communities.
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