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600 Valley High Seniors Participate In Mental Health Pilot Program

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Suicide kills more teens than vehicle crashes or cancer In Nevada, which has an overall suicide rate of twice the national average.

More than 30 Nevada teenagers took their own lives in 2017, providing a grim barometers of the mental health challenges facing young people today.

Nationally, more than one in five teens suffer at some point from depression or other types of mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. That figure jumps to 70 percent among young people in the juvenile justice system.

Valley High School in Las Vegas was the only Nevada campus among eight nationwide to participate in a recent mental health first aid pilot program.

Administrators and teachers created a mental health week that trained 600 seniors to spot the signs of mental illness in their classmates — or themselves.

“The topics were very involved and very specific,” Valley High Principal Ramona Esparza told State of Nevada. “So you had a period of the being trained and having hard discussions."

Officials from the National Council on Behavioral Health, which created the Mental Health First Aid program, are expanding the program by 35 schools for next year and are working to take it nationwide by the 2020-2021 school year.

Valley is expected to continue to participate and will offer the program to sophomores.

There is  more about student suicide and mental health first aid in the August issue of Desert Companion magazine. 


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Nevada Office of Suicide Prevention

Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention

Mobile Crisis Response Team - Hotline: South: 702-486-7865 or North: 775-688-1670

Crisis Call Center - Text Line - Text - "Listen" to 839863

De Prevencion del Suicido - 1-888-628-9454

Lacey Rosenbaum, director, Mental Health First Aid USA;   Ramona Esparza, prinicpal, Valley High School; Aaron Pina, student, Valley High School

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Desert Companion welcomed Heidi Kyser as staff writer in January 2014. In 2018, she was promoted to senior writer and producer, working for both DC and State of Nevada. She produced KNPR’s first podcast, the Edward R. Murrow Regional Award-winning Native Nevada, in 2020. The following year, she returned her focus full-time to Desert Companion, becoming Deputy Editor, which meant she was next in line to take over when longtime editor Andrew Kiraly left in July 2022.