Pennock Hospital

Spectrum Health Pennock Receives Funding for Youth Suicide-Prevention Program

March 16, 2022

One of the foundational principles of the School Blue Envelope Program is that suicide prevention is everyone’s responsibility. Consequently, the program provides training to all school staff members, including administrators, teachers, school mental health staff, nurses, coaches, office staff, etc. Youth in the region receive support from the Barry County Community Mental Authority’s Signs of Suicide program, which works directly with students to educate them about how to recognize and respond to suicidal thoughts or ideation among their peers.

The Barry Community Foundation has awarded $14,000 to Spectrum Health Foundation Pennock, which will provide Spectrum Health Pennock the tools necessary to implement the Suicide S.A.F.E. Team Response: School Blue Envelope Program in Barry County schools. This community-vetted program is a comprehensive suicide prevention and crisis response initiative for K-12 schools. It provides universal training in specific protocols for school staff members to use when a student is having a suicidal crisis. This includes step-by-step guidelines and evidence-based, nationally recognized assessment and safety-planning tools.

The grant will be used to implement the program in both middle and high schools in the following Barry County school districts: Delton Kellogg Schools, Thornapple Kellogg Schools, Maple Valley Schools, and the Hastings Area School System. (Future plans include expansion into all other county secondary schools.)

The Barry Community Foundation and Spectrum Health Pennock are trusted community partners with a history of effective collaboration, especially in the region’s schools. In 2021, the foundation awarded Spectrum Health Pennock with $22,000 to support its Healthy Kids, Smart Kids program, aimed at improving the health of children by providing school nursing resources for students and staff in Barry County’s K-12 schools. The School Blue Envelope Program is the next step toward providing crucial, holistic, lifesaving care for Barry County youth.

“With the generous and ongoing support of Barry Community Foundation and Spectrum Health Pennock,” says Carl Schoessel, interim superintendent Delton Kellogg Schools, “Our kids are safer. The Blue Envelope Team gave a presentation to both instructional and operational staff members of the Delton Kellogg Schools during a Staff Development Day. The presentation was excellent and very informative, especially for the veteran school staff members who have dealt with some student suicides here in the past, and the newer staff members who only had heard about the past situations expressed sincere appreciation for the training – several of the newer teachers commented that they understood about how important such training is but that at no time in their preparation to be teachers had the topic of student suicide even been discussed!”

“I am thrilled that the Grant Committee and Board of Directors, of the Foundation, saw the need for this program in our schools. It is an honor to be able to help facilitate these types of countywide initiatives.” Amy Murphy, Barry Community Foundation Grants Administrator.

Spectrum Health Pennock’s School Blue Envelope program is designed to empower school administrators, teachers, and support staff to step in when a student is expressing suicidal thoughts, and to intervene with confidence, knowledge, and competence. This crisis response is an important first step toward protecting secondary school students in the community who are in distress and helps them access the behavioral health resources they need to restore emotional stability and improve their mental health.

Janine Dalman
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