BISMARCK — Over 200 people packed into the Bismarck Career Academy Wednesday.
They weren’t your typical students here to learn about agriculture or aviation, but instead suicide, how to deal with it and possibly prevent it.
“Suicide is a serious public health problem. We know it has lasting effects on individuals, families and communities,” said Kody Pinks.
The room was filled with people from all walks of life including law enforcement, military, local government and tribes.
One of those was Century High School Senior Kaia Lill who told KX News sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a classmate having a bad day and one thinking about hurting themselves.
“I feel like you can tell a difference in their behavior, as they act throughout school. Me, I’m a very outgoing person so I do talk to a lot of people so kind of seeing that person and how they act differently I can tell there’s something maybe going on more than just their behavioral experiences,” said Lill.
In 2019, over 15 percent of North Dakota High School kids made a plan on how they would attempt suicide according to numbers from the Department of Public Instruction.
Kora Docktor is the Chair of the Coalition. She lost her son to suicide nearly six years ago and told KX News the mental health system in this country is broken.
“People need to know that even though they did everything they thought they could do, it can’t be done alone. We need a village to take care of our loved ones, and we just can’t save them alone,” said Docktor.
Those in attendance were all there for different reasons. Some taking detailed notes.
A talk was also given by high school student Kennedy Gjovik, who attempted suicide seven times before she finally got the help she needed.
“Sharing my story has been really healing for me because I’ve been able to not only help myself but help others and grow more and take what other people say and it has been helpful to me because I get to see what others are going through and it’s taught me a lot and it’s giving me a lot of great skills for life,” said Gjovick.
In North Dakota, with the exception of 2017, suicide rates have increased in every year since 2013.
Those who shared personal stories sometimes became emotional, but others felt it was necessary to speak because their message could save the life of someone else down the road.