Colorado has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the country, consistently ranking in the top 10 states for this tragedy. The Second Wind Fund was founded in Lakewood, Colorado, in 2002 with the purpose of preventing young people from taking their own lives by removing barriers to care.
“Our mission is to make life-saving interventions in the lives of children and teens struggling with thoughts of suicide with no access to care,” said Richard Eveleigh, executive director of the Second Wind Fund. The organization works with a “network of 150 licensed clinicians who have expertise in treating young people.”
To prevent kids and teenagers from converting thoughts of self-harm into irreversible actions, the Second Wind Fund pays for up to 12 sessions of treatment with a qualified clinician in this network. These therapists agree to provide services at a price below the market rate, and payment is made possible by donations “raised through the generosity of the community,” Eveleigh said.
Clinicians who apply to become a provider in the Second Wind Fund network are subject to thorough screening to make sure they are in good standing professionally and have demonstrated experience working with children and teenagers.
“We want to connect kids to outstanding services,” Eveleigh said.
The Second Wind Fund operates in numerous counties throughout the state of Colorado. Services are available as far north as Boulder County, as far east as Elbert County, as far south as El Paso County, and as far west as Montezuma County.
Spotting the Warning Signs
Each May is recognized as Mental Health Month, and the theme for this year's observance is “B4Stage4.” Early intervention is a cornerstone of the Second Wind Fund's work, Eveleigh said, because stage 4 represents the culmination of a young person's journey from unhappiness to depression to thinking about suicide to, ultimately, suicide.
“Twenty-five percent of kids experience anxiety and depression,” he said, “and 6 percent of middle school and high school kids actually attempt suicide.” He added that the rate of attempted suicide increases to 25 percent among children who identify as LGBT and 40 percent among those who are transgender.
A young person who is considering suicide might exhibit a number of different behaviors. They might “feel increasingly like they're a burden, like they don't belong,” Eveleigh said. By recognizing the warning signs of suicide, friends, family, counselors, and others can help connect at-risk youth with professional help.
“It's vitally important to know that, with help, there can be a better day,” he said. “It's something that can be survived. There is hope.”
Opening a dialog on such a sensitive subject can begin with “any engaging offer,” Eveleigh said. This could include statements that let the youth know that you care, such as: “'You look to be unhappy and I want to help you,'” or “'I want to connect you to professional help.'”
What's Coming Up for the Second Wind Fund?
Special events are a key component of the Second Wind Fund's history and its ongoing connection to the community. The 4th Annual Golf Classic will be held at Applewood Golf Course in Golden on June 19, and the Second Wind Fund has entered into a partnership with the inaugural Colorado ChileFest this September.
September also marks the organization's signature event. The 14th Annual Second Wind Walk/Run happens Sunday, September 27. For the first time, it will be held this year at Clement Park in Littleton.
The genesis of the Second Wind Fund began with the first Walk/Run in 2002. The event was organized as a way to bring the community together after the suicides of four students at a Jefferson County school. The first year drew 66 participants. Last year, 1,500 people attended the Walk/Run, with a goal of 2,000 participants in 2015.
Eveleigh said that he considered the founding of the Second Wind Fund as “genuinely the best example of a community coming together to address a very important issue – everyone came together to find ongoing strength.”
Ongoing support from communities throughout Colorado has made it possible for the Second Wind Fund to provide services across the state to nearly 4,000 youths at risk of suicide. At the start of the new school year, these services will expand into the digital realm as well.
The Second Wind Fund is on the verge of launching a program called Secure Video Therapy that will connect youths in remote areas to a licensed clinician through Web-based technology. The new program is HIPAA-compliant, meaning young people who don't otherwise have access to mental health care can take part in the same quality of therapy that kids who live near a provider's office would receive while maintaining their privacy.
“The issue of young people dying by suicide isn't going to go away by itself,” Eveleigh said. “That's why it's important to be inclusive: It's an issue that deserves to be in all of our hearts.”
Page 1 Solutions has been actively supporting the Second Wind Fund for 10 years through donations and participation in events like the annual Walk/Run. We value the work this organization does in our community, and look forward to providing continued support!
This article was written by Adam Rowan, content specialist at Page 1 Solutions.