Providing a helping hand: suicideTALK for Youth

Suicide TALK for Youth is a program that gives young teens at Minot Air Force Base a way to reach out to others when struggling with suicidal thoughts.

Maj. Lance Giannone, 5th Bomb Wing wing chaplain, said the purpose of the class is to help mitigate suicides for youth and emphasize the importance of kids talking about their feelings if they are struggling with suicidal concerns.
“The program helps our youth understand that it’s not dangerous or taboo to talk about suicide while giving them a venue to discuss their own personal struggles or opinions with a parent and a peer group in a safe environment,” said Capt. Jason Raines, 5th Bomb Wing chaplain.

Giannone also mentioned how Suicide TALK for Youth offers open discussions about suicide awareness while providing resources for those who want someone to talk to.

“We give youth the opportunity to discuss their feelings about suicide,” Giannone said. “It helps us bring awareness to them along with ways to intervene and help them understand that suicide is preventable.”

Led by chaplains, the program also includes involvement from other organizations like the Key Spouses program, the Memorial Middle School faculty, the Youth Center and the Airman and Family Readiness Center. 

Giannone said a parent is required to go with the youth who attends the program, which helps provide a safe place for the youth and hopefully an opportunity for them to discuss this sensitive topic in a somewhat relaxed atmosphere.

“We let them know that help is out there and there are a lot of different people the youth can reach out to,” Giannone added. “It can be a parent, it can be a best friend.”

Raines mentioned that the program not only helps inform youth, but their parents as well.

“We educate parents about the looming effects of suicide on their teens, we educate teens on how to deal and cope with feelings of suicide and how to talk about it and we equip them with resources to say, ‘If I am in a dark place, who can I go to?’,” Raines said.

Giannone also noted how the first meeting was a success.

“Feedback from parents of the youth has been overwhelmingly positive,” Giannone said. “The biggest takeaway from the Suicide TALK for Youth meeting in December was that we had two youth come forward and discuss concerns.”
The meetings are approximately an hour long and take place at the Northern Lights Chapel. The ages of the attending youth is up to the discretion of their parents.

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