CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- A suicide prevention program aimed at helping Douglas County school students just got a big boost from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office to the tune of $25,000.
The donation by Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock came after he maxed out his federally allotted amount from the asset forfeiture fund.
“It’s essentially drug money that has been seized from drug dealers and folks who have abandoned drug money,” said Spurlock.
Sources of Strength is a program in its fourth year, and organizers say it’s running strong.
Program organizers said the program is a way to train school students how to help their peers who might be suffering from mental health, drug or alcohol addiction, bullying and threats of school violence.
Through training of our students and our caring adults, we become empowered to become connectors to hope, help and strength,” said Staci McCormack, who’s the prevention and school culture coordinator for Douglas County Schools. “Because it is based on the philosophy of being a culture shifter, impact is immediate.”
The program is set to run at least 10 years. Sheriff Spurlock said the donation of $25,000 is going to be an ongoing annual donation to help the ongoing cycle of students who move through Douglas County Schools.
“If we can train other students to be mentors and to be on the lookout for those who are either involved in bullying or suicide indicators, and we can save a young child, then the $25,000 is clearly worth it,” said Sheriff Spurlock.
“This money is going to go directly to the school that is going to go right to train the trainers for these kids that can essentially help other children save their life,” said Sheriff Spurlock.
Sheriff Spurlock said just as every suicide death is a tragedy, the calls for those who are suicidal are also a stress on his deputies, as well as other agencies.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office told Denver7 that last year alone there were 762 mental health holds, of which the majority are suicidal people, and 25 suicide deaths in the county in 2016.
“Unfortunately, the coroner [identifies] if the person dies, but my office, my deputies that are working on the scene that are trying to get the person to the hospital. It impacts the healthcare system and so it is a significant impact across the board for our society,” said Sheriff Spurlock.
The goal of these agencies is to reduce the total number of suicides to zero.