Eau Claire, WI: Youth suicide in WI among highest in the country; mental health funding coming

Feb 2, 2018, Appleton (WI) Post Crescent: After student suicides, schools' new crisis is helping kids deal with grief EAU CLAIRE - Eisold was 16 and a sophomore at North High School in Eau Claire when she died by suicide on May 29, 2016. Teachers were instructed to read a two-sentence message during their second period classes. “It is with great sadness that we report that sophomore Megan Eisold passed away this weekend,” the message said, according to a copy provided by Dave Reidt, a North High guidance counselor. “Our deepest sympathy goes out to all of Megan’s friends and family.” Olson remembers no class discussion. There was the announcement, then lessons…. Her experience provides a window into one of the most critical challenges facing schools when such a tragedy occurs: making sure other students, particularly those with shaky mental health themselves, don't head down the same path. … Youth suicide rates in Wisconsin are among the highest in the nation and growing in some parts of the state. Yet Curtis, a state Department of Public Instruction consultant, said the schools he works with often don’t mention suicide in their crisis response plans. … For the past two years, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin has examined gaps in youth mental health services through the series “Kids in Crisis.” The series detailed shortages of mental health counselors; efforts to combat stigma about depression and other illnesses; and a patchwork of new initiatives aimed at helping families. The series last year inspired state lawmakers to budget $7 million for school mental health. With the funding, the state will provide more training for school staff, boost the ranks of school social workers, and help schools set up clinical partnerships with local health providers. … Reidt said more staff training on mental health has been at the forefront of the school's attention, and the Eau Claire school district is working to update its crisis response plans this year. "We do take mental health seriously, and we do know it is a concern across all communities in the U.S.," Reidt said. 'We had a huge gap'