ILWACO, Wash. - About a quarter of teens here believe they have no one to talk to.
While two out of three teens can talk to someone, many perceive they are ostracized, according to a survey conducted last spring by a group that formed after three young people killed themselves last year.
The Community Impact Group met Tuesday to assess its progress raising awareness in the community and discuss future programs.
In September, the first of the suicides took place as a well-known teenager died in Seaview. Two other young people killed themselves in Pacific County and an Astoria girl also died.
The group, of social workers, pastors, educators, public health workers and relatives of victims, formed and brought in Sue Eastgard, the Youth Suicide Prevention Coordinator, based in Seattle.
Last winter, Eastgard spoke to a gym full of people at Ilwaco Junior/Senior High School. Eastgard returned Tuesday to continue her message - suicide can be reduced with public awareness. Nearly 20 people attended.
That is to be expected, said Claudia Edwards, who coordinates a support group for family and friends of those who committed suicide. But she encourages people to remain vigilant.
"It's always out there lurking somewhere," she said.
Eastgard noted three pillars of community involvement in suicide awareness:
Show you care by being involved with young people.
Ask people who seem to be depressed: "Are you thinking about suicide."
Get help for those who might be suicidal or depressed.
In response to these challenges, community members developed several programs to combat suicide.
In the last year, local pastors pioneered "Friendly Faces," a program that puts them at the school before and after classes and during lunch. A local pastor developed a hotline for teens at (360) 665-TEEN. Last year, a high school student created cards people can carry to remind them about suicide awareness. The group is looking for another student to take an interest in the project this year. The student will be able to attend a free training workshop this fall.
Local groups will host a free suicide prevention workshop from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 17 and 18 at Peninsula Church Center, 5000 N. Place in Seaview.
The Community Impact Group will meet 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Department of Social and Health Services building at 2601 Pacific Highway at the Children's Services office on the second floor. Community Impact meetings are open to the public.
Other results from the survey revealed 68 percent of students said alcohol and drugs affect their lives or the lives of people they know. Some 68 percent also reported they think teenagers are "in-between," when asked if people in the area are generally "happy, sad or in-between." About 66 percent do not believe they can trust adults with their feelings. The survey was made available to students last year at the junior and senior high.