Three suicides leads RCAS to involve community in prevention

RAPID CITY S.D. (KOTA TV) - Rapid City Area Schools has lost three members of the community due to suicide. The growing problem has sparked a citywide discussion.

A panel of mental health experts, student leaders, law enforcement and others gathered at Western Dakota Tech to offer insight and look for solutions.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Matthew Seebaum outlined a new strategy. It includes creating an intervention and prevention plan, and use more community resources.

Students and parents listened in, one person asked how the district should address the LGBT community because they say they have a higher suicide risk than their peers.

"Creating a gay straight alliance where straight and gay kids have the support of the faculty," said bullying expert Dr. Dorthy Espelague. "We've lessened suicide, plus depression and anxiety among those youth as well as the heterosexual youth."

Another audience member wanted to know what role they can play in solving this growing issue.

"Kids aren't going to come have a conversation with anyone no matter who it is, no matter their job title if they think when they sit down the person across them is going to judge them for some reason," said Randy Allen, with the Crisis Care Center.

No action was taken by the board of education Tuesday night, but the district plans to have their new plan ready at the beginning of the next school year.