Valley Center, CA
March 22, 2023
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Mostly cloudy

Impacts of suicide discussion May 10

Valley Center has experienced two teenage suicides within the space of a few weeks. This has caused uncalculatable heart ache and pain among local parents, their children, their friends and relatives. 

To address this hurt, there will be a talk about the impacts of suicide on May 10, 6-8 p.m. at the Maxine Theater, 31322 Cole Grade Rd.

According to one of the organizers, Mimi Van Koughnett, VC-P School District Supt. Ron McCowan will open the program. He will be followed by Valley Center High School Principal Mark Hailwood.

Jim Dorschel, who lost his son Keith to suicide five years ago, will share his story. He will be followed by director of student services Dayen Howard. She will introduce her team of counselors. “This will give a face and a name to the counselors,” said Van Koughnett.

In the lobby, following the program, youth pastors from several VC churches will be available for anyone who wants to speak to them.

The program was organized by Mimi Van Koughnett of the school district and Lucretia Stehly of St. Stephen Catholic Church. They had worked together before on a program about the dangers of vaping. They had been planning a program on drug overdoses and suicide, but needed to organize one quickly after the suicides. 

“The Maxine was available on May 10 and the high school liked that day because tests will follow the next week. This is a good time to do it,” she said. 

Jim Dorschel is much in demand to talk to groups about suicide. A longtime Kiwanis Club member, he speaks to as many as three groups a month, many of them audiences of Kiwanis Club members. He notes that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death of youth ages 10 -24, and the 10th leading cause of death for all Americans.

“The talk is about mental health and suicide and hopefully ending the stigma attached to mental health conditions. So that more people are willing to talk about it and seek help,” he told The Roadrunner. He also talks about warning signs, possible triggers and what to do if you see warning signs.

Dorschel said,  “The number of suicide deaths went down 3% in 2020 from 2019, but the youth numbers 10-24 went up dramatically. It’s just rampaging,” he said. “When Keith, died we felt like we were the only people to experience that pain. But the truth is, someone dies by suicide every 11 minutes. We need to get rid of the stigma.” 

Questions? Call 760-877-6979.  Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Jim Dorschel will talk about the impacts of suicide at a special program May 10 at the Maxine.

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