Dodgeball fundraiser at Coronado April 22 to counter youth suicide issueAmid a disturbing increase in El Paso County teen suicides, Coronado High School will be the site of the first-time Kids and Cops Dodgeball Tournament, which seeks to publicize the problem and raise funds to counter it.
The event will be Saturday, April 22 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The school is at 1590 W. Filllmore St.
Inside the Coronado gym, teams from 11 high schools, plus each one's school resource officer (SRO), will hold dodgeball games, while outside in the courtyard
Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students, according to the event flyer. Donations are also requested, with proceeds going to Pikes Peak Suicide Prevention (PPSP), a nonprofit that provides counseling, support groups and training to avert - or if need be, to cope with - self-inflicted tragedies.
The event is being organized by the Chief's Youth Advisory Council. This is an informal group, consisting of students from area schools who meet monthly with Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey and County Sheriff Bill Elder.
The event goal is to “bring awareness to teen suicides in our area and the resources that are available,” said Police Officer Dedra Worley, who is an SRO herself. “The students would like to do something to help their peers.”
According to Pikes Peak Suicide Prevention Director Janet Karnes, the number of teen suicides doubled in 2015 to 14 deaths, “and 2016 was just as bad.” Of particular concern, most of the deaths in the past two years have been younger teens - ages 14 to 16.
Statistics show that for every actual suicide death, there are 25 attempts, she added.
The cause of the increase has been elusive. “It's probably a combination of lots of things,” Karnes said. “We're trying to get our heads around it.”
Her agency will be studying the issue this year in a “think tank” outreach involving about 150 teenagers who volunteered to meet with PPSP in small groups. “We're asking the teens, 'What's causing you so much stress? Why are you struggling so much?'” Karnes said.
A Colorado Springs PD press release relates that the tournament dodgeball teams will be from these high schools: Coronado, Doherty, Manitou Springs, Mitchell, Pine Creek, Rampart, Sand Creek, Sierra, Vista Ridge, Wasson Academic Campus, and Widefield. Also participating will be cadet programs from CSPD, County Sheriff's Office and Fountain Police Department, the release states.
The law enforcement equipment and units scheduled for display are (from the Sheriff's Office) the SWAT Bear vehicle, canine unit and mounted unit; and (from CSPD) the bomb truck with robot, the motorcycle unit and Mobile Command Post.
“This will be a great family event,” the release adds. “Come out and support your favorite teams. Kids and cops are bringing our community together to create awareness of suicide prevention.”
For those with suicide concerns, the PPSP phone is 573-7447, and the website is pikespeaksuicideprevention.org. The state offers a 24/7 crisis hotline at 1-844-493- TALK (8255).
Westside Pioneer article