At least 4 youth suicides in Clackamas Co. in 2018, Molalla River Schools takes action


Clackamas county is leading the region in suicide rates, and officials say youths are among the most at risk.

The county's suicide rate is 16 percent higher than the national rate, and is higher than the Washington and Multnomah County rates, according to Galli Murray of Clackamas Behavioral Health.

So far this year, at least four students in the county took their own lives.

Molalla River School District is now making sure students don't feel ashamed talking about mental health.

“There isn't a family in this community or any community in Oregon that hasn't been touched by a mental health challenge or an addiction challenge,” said District Superintendent Tony Mann.

They've partnered up with the non-profit Trillium Family Services to offer onsite therapists to get students help.

Trillium’s president Jamie Vandergon says they’ve helped hundreds of schools in Oregon by taking the support one step further than a regular school councilor can.

Vandergon said therapists can help build a relationship with students at school and then create a plan with treatment goals.

“They are very different roles. Our therapists are active as if they are therapists in any clinic based setting, it's just the clinic based setting is just at the school,” said Vandergon.

Trillium's goal is to make it easier to talk about mental health.

“The more services we can embed in our schools, in communities, with kids and family the strong the systems are going to be for our kids,” said Vandergon.

Mann wants to make sure the students in his district know they have a safe space within their classrooms.

“Mental illness or addiction, neither are moral failings, they're part of the human condition and there is a solution for both and that means reaching out for help,” said Mann.

The closest mental health facility to Molalla is in Oregon City. The services come at no cost to the district. Mann said the school district and trillium are working to hire therapists for all of the schools.

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