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Yellow Ribbon project has profound effect

by Merrie Leininger

The Yellow Ribbon Project committee met Thursday to discuss community reaction to the suicide prevention program and what the future holds.

Pastor Pete Nelson of the Carson Valley United Methodist Church said the students he has talked to all said the program was “profound.”

The creators of the Yellow Ribbon project, Dar and Dale Emme of Colorado, recently came to Douglas County and spoke to students about the suicide of their son, Mike. They also handed out Yellow Ribbon cards which serve as a way for students to ask for help with depression or any problem.

Mary Wolery, a counselor at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School, said the program really affected not only students, but also some staff members who have experienced suicides in their families.

She said two Yellow Ribbon cards were turned into her, but she doesn’t know how many were give to other staff members. All the teachers were trained in suicide prevention counseling before the program was presented to students.

“The teachers thanked me for the inservice because it was a critical part. The two referrals this week weren’t high-risk (for suicide) but this has given them an avenue to say, ‘I’ve got a problem,'” Wolery said. I ran out of cards because kids were taking stacks of them to give to their brothers or sisters and to sent to friends.”

Two people from Douglas County have logged on the Yellow Ribbon Web site since the program.

Everyone expressed a concern with holding the program right before the school district’s ski week vacation, when students would find it more difficult to find help off campus.

Committee members also discussed ways of making the program more effective by having student participation and how to spread the Yellow Ribbon program throughout Northern Nevada.

Dori Draper, a counselor at Douglas High School, said their “Natural Helpers,” who are peer counselors, gave presentations to the high school students. She said one student walked up to a counselor and turned in his card immediately following the presentation.

Draper said the peer counselors hope to teach their Carson City counterparts how to teach suicide prevention.

Maggie Allen, communications liaison for the Douglas County School District, volunteered to organize a speakers bureau of the committee members in order to help spread information about the Yellow Ribbon Program.

The group decided to do a suicide prevention week in late November or early December and will meet again in September to begin planning.