If you go
• What: Free “Helping Hurting Teens” suicide prevention seminar.
• When: 7 to 9 p.m. today.
• Where: City Harvest Church, 8100 N.W. Ninth Ave., Vancouver.
• Information: Unite 4 Life: 360-670-9468 or its website.
Five Clark County teens have died by suicide in the past four months. In response, a local nonprofit that addresses teen suicide and depression is offering a free seminar tonight.
The Unite 4 Life event is from 7 to 9 p.m. at City Harvest Church, 8100 N.W. Ninth Ave., in Vancouver.
Two Vancouver teens — a girl at Columbia River High School and a boy at Skyview High School — died by suicide within one week of each other in mid-May. In February, two high school boys — one at Battle Ground High School, the other at Union High School — took their lives, said Aaron Chidester, Unite 4 Life executive director. A fifth teen died by suicide in recent months as well, but Chidester said he didn’t know details about the teen.
Tonight’s 90-minute presentation, “Helping Hurting Students,” is a prevention message for teens, parents and other interested community members. Topics covered include understanding depression and how it affects teens, identifying warning signs of teen depression and suicide, and creating a help-seeking atmosphere for hurting teens.
The presentation will be followed by a 30-minute question-and-answer session.
The church can hold 700 people, and Chidester said he expects the event will be well-attended.
“I’m expecting a full building,” he said. “I think the concern in the community is at a high. There are teenagers who have questions. There are parents who are scared.”
The organization might host additional seminars if tonight’s event indicates there is a need for more outreach, Chidester said.
Chidester said he has meetings scheduled next week with the Clark County commissioners and Vancouver Councilwoman Jeanne Stewart to discuss a communitywide response.
Unite 4 Life also will offer crisis intervention and small-group discussions for teens who want to talk about their feelings of depression or about the loss of their friends.
Unite 4 Life was created in Alameda County, Calif., after a rash of teen suicides in 2006-07. The nonprofit group worked with schools and students in the area.
The organization relocated to Vancouver in 2009.
Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546 or firstname.lastname@example.org.