From 2001 through 2010, nine teens from the Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula area have committed suicide, according to the Gig Harbor & Key Peninsula Suicide Prevention Coalition.
As a result, the Peninsula School District has been working to better understand the issue in the community.
Last June, the district hired Sue Eastgard, a retired director of the Youth Suicide Prevention Program, to form and facilitate the coalition.
The group, which includes local educators, students, parents, social service providers and law enforcements, is currently trying to interpret how big the problem is affecting the community.
“There is a stereotype of Gig Harbor being an affluent community, and yet that may be true more so within Gig Harbor, but when you take in Key Peninsula, it’s a different picture,” Eastgard said.
“We are really trying to address why are kids so depressed. Why do they feel so hopeless that they see no way out?”
As a way to learn more, Eastgard launched a short anonymous survey on the coalition website for community members to participate.
Click here to take the survey. (The survey will be available through February.)
While the coalition is still in its beginning stages, Eastgard hopes to get a better idea of what the community believes should be done to prevent suicidal behaviors in the community.
Among the different choices for possible solutions, the survey suggests more education on suicide prevention, address bullying and reducing academic expectations at school.
The coalition’s next meeting will be on Thursday, Feb. 14, at the Jim and Carolyn Milgard Family HOPE Center at 9 a.m. in Gig Harbor. The group is open to the public.
Eastgard will also be hosting a training workshop for community members in University Place on Friday, Feb. 22. The three-hour safeTALK workshop teaches participants to recognize people with thoughts of suicide and to connect them to suicide first aid resources.
Click here or on the PDF for more information.What would you like to see the coalition address regarding the teen suicide issue in Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula? Tell us in the comments section.