By Amy Bounds, Boulder Daily Camera
Holiday star campaign raises funds and awareness for high-risk youth
BOULDER – Through its fourth annual holiday star fundraiser, Rise Against Suicide is asking the community to donate to cover therapy sessions for local teens and preteens at risk of suicide.
The organization reached a new high of 51 requests for counseling in November, said Rise Against Suicide Executive Director Jenna Clinchard. This year, they have received an average of two referrals for counseling a day.
“We’re asking people to give the gift of mental health,” she said. “It’s really nice to see the community come together and want to help.”
For the fundraiser, Rise Against Suicide placed star-decked trees or created star walls in 70 businesses and churches around Boulder County and Broomfield. People can take a star for more information on donating, scan a QR code or donate directly online at riseagainstsuicide.org. The fundraiser runs through the end of December.
Rise Against Suicide connects uninsured and underinsured Boulder Valley and St. Vrain Valley young people at risk of suicide with free counseling. Within hours of receiving a request for help, youth can talk privately with highly qualified therapists. Therapists offer in-person and telehealth appointments, including providing therapy at a student’s school.
Suggested donations include $30 to cover a therapist’s transportation to a school appointment, $45 for a half therapy session, $90 for a full session or $1,100 to support a full course of therapy. The six main sponsors are Easton Homes, Mindful Works, Proto’s Pizzeria, Sandstone Care, Sunflower Bank and the Tikkun Foundation.
Even as the pandemic wanes and school is back in person, Clinchard said, it’s not getting easier for young people to access timely mental heathcare. “There are still very long wait lists, especially for our kids who are uninsured,” she said. “These kids cannot wait three to six months. When you’re suicidal, you need immediate help. We can’t ask them to wait on a wait list.”
Additions this year to the services offered include a group therapy option, with two therapists working with up to 15 young people. “A lot of kids get through it together,” Clinchard said.
She also started providing counselors at funeral services for local teens who died by suicide, giving young people in attendance someone to talk to about their grief.
Rise Against Suicide is now providing speakers at the request of parents or schools to share information about warning signs and community resources. “We can share what to look for and be aware of in our kids when they’re struggling,” she said. “It’s hard for kids right now. We need to talk about our mental health more. The other thing kids need are resources. They don’t know where to go or who to talk to.”
Along with raising money, Clinchard said, the holiday star campaign was created to raise awareness. “It is a fundraiser, but imagine a family seeing this whose child is struggling with suicidal ideation and is feeling helpless,” she said. “They can call us and get the help they need. The most important thing is we keep these kids alive. We can’t do it without everybody in the community.”
For more information, go to Rise Against Suicide.