Floyd County Schools had 175 students who have attempted suicide at least once, according to a student health survey conducted by Georgia Department of Education in sixth through 12th grades.
Rome City Schools had 128 students who said the same thing.
In an effort to combat this, Floyd County’s suicide prevention coalition, Healing Hearts, partnered with Northwest Georgia Regional Education Service Agency to host a mental health summit.
“The coalition got the mental health professionals and we contacted the school districts,” RESA Wraparound Coordinator Tonya Plant said.
On Friday, around 120 people came to the Lakeview Building on the Georgia Highlands campus to attend sessions and learn from one another how to better take care of people and prevent suicide.
Many of the attendees were school counselors, but the summit also had people come from local government agencies, nonprofits and mental health courts.
Sponsors included Rome Circuit Mental Health Court, Willowbrooke at Tanner, Amerigroup and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Mental health care professionals hosted breakout sessions on a wide range of topics.
One session informed attendees about the Georgia Crisis and Access Line, which operates as the state’s suicide hotline. Morgan Driskell from Willowbrooke Behavioral Heath said many of the counselors attending the sessions hadn’t even heard of it.
One of GCAL’s most unique features is it’s mobile crisis unit, which people can call if someone is having suicidal thoughts and is at risk of self-harm.
The unit can send out a nurse and therapist team, which will perform two assessments: health and psychological. The unit will then determine where the person needs to be placed, such as a mental health care facility.
To contact GCAL, call 1-800-715-4225.
Andrea Loveless works as a certified peer specialist with Highland Rivers Health in Cartersville. The mental health service is funded by the Garrett Lee Smith federal grant, which aims to prevent suicide in youth and young adults ages 10 to 24.
Loveless grew up in Floyd County. She said she has her own personal experiences with suicide attempts, self-harm, depression and anxiety. She now shares her story so people can have a better understanding of where someone is mentally when they’re considering suicide.
“I bridge the gap between adults working with youth who are having suicidal thoughts,” Loveless said.
“I want to help people realize it can get better and allow them to live a happy and healthy life.”
Plant said she hopes to make this summit an annual event to help mental health care providers and school counselors learn more about resources and how to work with people who are prone to suicide and depression.