GUEST COLUMN:
Second wind... literally
By Constance Gelvin

       In February 2010, a new nonprofit came to our area. The Second Wind Fund of El Paso and Teller Counties' (SWFETC) mission is to decrease the incidence of teen suicide nationally by removing financial and social barriers to treatment for at-risk youth.
       Is there a need for a nonprofit of this nature in our community?
       Yes! According to the 2010 document, “Quality of Life Indicators for the Pikes Peak Region, the El Paso suicide rates for ages 15 to 18 are “notably higher than the national rate, with the rate for males higher than for females.” In fact, El Paso County has the second highest youth suicide rate in the nation (second only to Las Vegas, Nev.).
       First, some history: During the 2001-2002 school year, four students at Green Mountain High School in Jefferson County, Colorado committed suicide in a nine- month time frame. The community in general, but especially the high school community, were profoundly affected.
       The Second Wind Fund was initiated by Green Mountain Presbyterian Church in September 2002 following these four suicides. On Sept. 8, 2002, Green Mountain Presbyter-ian held a small walk/run in association with its annual church summer picnic. A few members planned the event over a short period of time, and the event was not publicized except for a few neighborhood flyers. Most of the 66 people who participated were church members and their friends. Enough money was raised to be of help to Green Mountain High School students. We just didn't know how it would be used at that point!
       After church members met with high school counselors, Second Wind Fund monies were made available to Green Mountain and its feeder schools in December 2002 to pay for therapy for non- and under-insured youth with suicidal thoughts. After a few referrals were made, SWF began receiving calls from other schools requesting use of the fund.
       And from this humble beginning, the Second Wind Fund was born and has now spread to communities throughout Colorado (and even to a few other states).
       We are “getting the word out” to local schools and the community at large that there is immediate funding for youth in El Paso and Teller Counties to receive free mental health services with a licensed, experienced therapist.
       For more information, call 322 2839 or e-mail me at cvgelvin@aol.com.