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OK National Guard Hopes To Raise Awareness For Suicide Prevention

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The T3 or "Time to Talk" program is aimed at stopping suicides, especially among students, through ongoing curriculum that last from elementary school all the way through high school graduation. The T3 or "Time to Talk" program is aimed at stopping suicides, especially among students, through ongoing curriculum that last from elementary school all the way through high school graduation.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

The Oklahoma National Guard is teaming up with state agencies and local school districts to raise awareness about suicide prevention.

The T3 or "Time to Talk" program is aimed at stopping suicides, especially among students, through ongoing curriculum that last from elementary school all the way through high school graduation. This year four school districts in the metro have signed up to launch the program: Edmond, Moore, Mid-Del and Putnam City.

Maj. Gen. Myles Deering said the National Guard got involved after witnessing suicides within the military and in schools.

"I have witnessed the pain firsthand on the military side of what happens in our organization with something like this," he explained.

The Adjutant General said the military has been working on reducing suicides among service members for years, but it has recently put a greater focus on investigating why these men and women had killed themselves.

He said the findings were surprising to some; many of the suicides were not combat-related. Upon further review, they discovered that many times it was because of a bad relationship, which was similar to why some of the recent students committed suicide.

"I think we have to look at this suicide awareness and building resiliency in our community and especially among our kids as a community endeavor," said Deering.

State experts agree with him and have the statistic to back up an effort to stop suicides in Oklahoma, which continuously ranks high in deaths by suicide.

"Oklahoma is consistently around 8th - 13th in terms of death by suicide in terms of the national average so certainly it's a significant public health problem," explained Steven Buck with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health.

Buck said that resources might be stretched thin in Oklahoma, but stressed the importance of a collaborative effort like T3. The administration at Mid-Del Schools agreed that this program is a key factor in addressing the problem.

"It's not a one week thing or a one month thing. It's something that you'll embed throughout the school year in the curriculum," said Assistant Superintendent Kathy Dunn. "People who attempt suicide, think about suicide [and] usually always have given signals within the last 24 hours. And if we just are trained to know what those are, that helps us to help kids.

Dunn believes that weaving suicide prevention into the yearly curriculum is crucial, starting from a young age. It starts with positive reinforcement and resiliency at the elementary school age. Those students will learn about filling up each other's "buckets" with positive things.

For example, making children feel comfortable to reach out to another child who might feel left out or who is having a bad day. The experts say a lot of this stems from problem at home. As the students grow into middle and high school, the ongoing work will deal with the actual signs of suicide prevention and how to deal with it before it becomes too late.

Oklahoma's National Guard has spearheaded the effort to bring several resources together working towards one goal, to save young lives.

"It's not the end of the world unless you make it that way but the fact is there are more people out there that care about you than you think," said Deering.

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