In the spring of 2002, Ken Wiig’s 17-year-old daughter died by suicide. The teen had musical talents, was organized and got good grades. But she took her life just days after she had enrolled in classes at the Community College of Denver.
This item is available in full to subscribers.
If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.
Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.
If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.
The Jefferson Unitarian Church and Together Colorado hosted a forum on March 13 titled “It’s Time to Talk: Mental Health and Emotional Wellness at School.”
Many area resources are available for families coping with a youth who may be struggling with his or her mental health and/or emotional wellness, Here are the local nonprofits represented at the forum.
• Second Wind Fund, Inc.: 720-962-0706, www.thesecondwindfund.org
• SPHERE Education: 303-324-0155, www.sphereeducation.com
• Jefferson Center for Mental Health: 303-425-0300, www.jcmh.org
Also always available:
• 24-Hour Colorado Crisis Support Line: 1-844-493-TALK (8255)
• 24-Hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
In the spring of 2002, Ken Wiig’s 17-year-old daughter died by suicide. The teen had musical talents, was organized and got good grades. But she took her life just days after she had enrolled in classes at the Community College of Denver.Wiig now serves as a board member for the Second Wind Fund, a nonprofit based in Lakewood that has a reach of 21 Colorado counties to help children and youth who are at risk of suicide.Stacie Amaya’s 13-year-old son became depressed by the end of his fifth-grade year. The family struggled for the next few years to keep him on track academically and emotionally. By the eighth grade, he was hurting himself at school.“Something has to give,” said Amaya said, a single parent of three who also balances a job and college courses. “We, as parents, can’t keep doing this on our own.”Amaya and Wiig were featured speakers at a public forum to discuss the mental health and emotional wellness of youth in Jeffco schools. The forum was sponsored by a partnership between the Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden and Together Colorado, a nonprofit with a network of 200 schools, clergy and faith leaders that works to bring change through community organizing. About 170 people attended the March 13 meeting. Most were members of the church, but the crowd also included school board representatives, teachers, students and local elected officials.“Suicide does not discriminate,” said Jon Widmier, director of student services at Jeffco Public Schools.Know what is going on with the youth in your life, he added. “Be involved with your family, your neighbors, your kids.”Prevention is always on the forefront when dealing with the topic of suicide among youth, Widmier said, but nowadays, there are many good things also happening with intervention.To attest to this, Lisa Ritchie, principal of Lakewood High School, spoke on the importance of school community and Lakewood’s various 50-plus clubs and activities that encourage student involvement.Jen Byrne, Golden High School’s instructional coach and head coach for cross-country and track, along with students and brothers Jordan and Zach Fehrn described the effectiveness of the school’s Sources of Strength program.Sources of Strength is a universal high school suicide prevention program in about 40 U.S. states and Canada. Peer-led social networks drive the program.At Golden High School, about 75 students — freshman to seniors — are involved, Byrne said.And for every one of those students, the program is much more than something to do that looks good on a college application, said Jordan Fehrn, who, along with his brother Zach, is a peer leader for the program.The program is fun, and above all, rewarding, the brothers said.“It’s about being able to bring hope into kids’ lives who may need it,” Jordan Fehrn said. “We’re creating a positive attitude throughout the high school.”
Other items that may interest you
We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.
The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.