When a loved one commits suicide, waves of shock, grief and guilt are felt as parents, sons, daughters, siblings and friends wonder, "why?" and "What didn't we do?"

When a loved one commits suicide, waves of shock, grief and guilt are felt as parents, sons, daughters, siblings and friends wonder, "why?" and "What didn't we do?"

Worthington Kilbourne High School Principal Angie Adrean has sought answers to those questions, especially since suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people between 10 and 24 years old.

She and school counselors Brianna Abbott, Ariel Schwartz, Molly Lord and Andrea Gratz applied for a $3,000 grant from the Worthington Educational Foundation.

The result was suicide prevention training for staff at Worthington Kilbourne High School and an upcoming event called Harboring Hope.

The concept that "A simple conversation could change a life" is the reasoning behind the free event, which features international suicide prevention experts Paul and Darcy Granello. It is scheduled at 7 p.m. Sept. 8 at Worthington Kilbourne High School, 1499 Hard Road.

"We applied for the grant after we had the opportunity to hear Dr. Darcy and Dr. Paul Granello speak at a local conference," Adrean said. "We believe in the value of educating the whole child-social and emotional health are vital for all of us to grow stronger academically."

Abbott said more teens die as the result of suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease combined.

"We want to do everything we can to help make a positive difference on this critical health concern," she said.

Abbott said people must learn how to have conversations about the topics of suicide and mental illness. She said when someone ends his or her life, the impact is not limited to the individual -- it leaves a big gap in many relationships, as loved ones and friends try to pick up the pieces.

"It is important to change the stigma related to getting help, so that people don't feel there is no other choice available," she said. "Our hope is that with this grant and with this evening presentation we are able to help even one family."

Adrean said the Granellos are Worthington residents and professors of counselor education at Ohio State University. They started REACH, the OSU Suicide Prevention program, designed to help the college community prevent suicide by: "Recognize warning signs; Engage with empathy; Ask directly about suicide; Communicate hope; Help suicidal individuals access care and treatment."

All district counselors, school psychologists and administrators recently completed the prevention training and on Aug. 4, several Worthington Kilbourne teachers and classified staff went through the training.

"The rest of the WKHS staff will be trained this fall," Adrean said. "Our hope is to increase awareness and educate employees on the risks, warning signs and how to intervene. The best way to prevent suicide is to be aware of the warning signs.

"The best outreach we can all do is to convey hope," she said.

Abbott said some parents don't believe suicide could be an issue for their son or daughter.

"It could be a concern for their child's friends or classmates, and so it will still be important and valuable information to learn," she said. "By joining forces together, we can all be a positive presence for the students in Worthington and hopefully help recognize and connect kids to support before they reach the point where they don't see any option other than suicide."

She said statistically, four out of five teens who died as a result of suicide displayed signs prior to their death.

Warning signs can include expressions of feelings of hopelessness, lack of interest in activities they used to enjoy, changes in grades or behaviors, overwhelming depression or anxiety, talking about dying or indicating a belief that things would be better without them, giving away prized possessions, increased alcohol or drug use, displaying impulsive behaviors, dramatic mood swings and feelings of anger or worthlessness.

"It is always important to trust your gut instinct when you feel like something might be wrong," Abbott said. "If something doesn't feel right, then it is important to ask the teen if she or she is feeling suicidal. Talking about suicide will not increase their risk of suicide."

@PamelaThisWeek