$86,000 for Suicide Prevention in Elk & Cameron Counties

[L-R] Heidi Thomas, Dickinson Center; Jim Prosper, Dickinson Center; Rachelle Kastner, Dickinson Center; Christine Holjencin, Cameron County School District Superintendent; Missy Orner, Dickinson Center; Sierra Gilmore, Dickinson Center; Dennis Crotzer, Johnsonburg Area School District Superintendent; Don Fleming, Palumbo Trustee; Sam MacDonald, Elk County Catholic School System President; Bob Rocco, Ridgway Area School District Superintendent;  Bob Ordiway, Palumbo Trustee; Brian Toth, St. Marys Area School District Superintendent; and Tana Funair, Dickinson Center  

[L-R] Heidi Thomas, Dickinson Center; Jim Prosper, Dickinson Center; Rachelle Kastner, Dickinson Center; Christine Holjencin, Cameron County School District Superintendent; Missy Orner, Dickinson Center; Sierra Gilmore, Dickinson Center; Dennis Crotzer, Johnsonburg Area School District Superintendent; Don Fleming, Palumbo Trustee; Sam MacDonald, Elk County Catholic School System President; Bob Rocco, Ridgway Area School District Superintendent;  Bob Ordiway, Palumbo Trustee; Brian Toth, St. Marys Area School District Superintendent; and Tana Funair, Dickinson Center  

Ridgway - Dickinson Center, Inc. (DCI) was awarded $86,000 from the AJ & Sigismunda Palumbo Charitable Trust to support their Signs of Suicide® Prevention Program in Elk and Cameron counties.  Trustees Don Fleming and Bob Ordiway presented the check to DCI and local school superintendents on April 6, 2016.

The Signs of Suicide (SOS) Prevention Program is facilitated to students in Elk and Cameron counties’ middle and high schools. The SOS Program is an evidence-based curriculum designed to combat increasing rates of suicide among middle and high school youth.  The school-based program works to prevent suicide by raising student awareness of depression, and other risk factors.  The program also includes a short depression screening for students to evaluate their own risk factors for depression.  SOS is designed to teach youth the signs in others.  The students are taught the ACT plan as a response to recognition of suicidal behavior.  The ACT plan involves Acknowledgement of suicidal behavior, demonstration of Care for suicidal students, and Telling trusted adults about recognized depressive symptoms and/or suicidal behavior.  The SOS Program was implemented in Elk and Cameron counties in 2007 as a result of the support from the Palumbo Charitable Trust. The Trust and Dickinson recognized the need from the Pennsylvania Youth Survey data that reported 30% of 10th and 12th graders in Elk and Cameron counties reported feeling sad and/or depressed most days, and local data that reflected suicide attempts and/or completed suicides.  This year DCI’s collaboration with CAPSEA enabled expansion of the SOS Program’s message to include age-appropriate education to elementary school students; most notably through a school-wide bullying prevention campaign at St. Marys Catholic Elementary School.    

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for children ages 10-14 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-CDC).  Students ages 10-14 are in 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.  Dickinson Center encourages the community to learn about the signs and symptoms of depression and suicide.  Thoughts of wanting to die are not a normal reaction to stress or emotional upset, and are typically associated with depression. If you have a family member or friend who you are concerned about, encourage them to seek help.  If concerned , or you would like to learn more about the SOS Program, contact Tana Funair, Program Director at 834.2602.

Dickinson Center, Inc. is a P.A.N.O accredited organization (Pennsylvania Association for Nonprofit Organizations).  Dickinson was awarded accreditation under the Standards for Excellence program, which is bestowedonly on the most well-managed and responsibly governed nonprofit organizations that have demonstrated compliance with 55 specific Standards for Excellence based on honesty, integrity, fairness, respect, trust, responsibility, and accountability.  DCI has met, complied with, and integrated the Standards for Excellence into all of its processes to successfully complete the voluntary accreditation.