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November 6, 2017

Government services help families fight suicide

“You know, sometimes we don’t think about the most important and necessary things that touch our lives, the world around us, and people we love,” says teacher at School-Gymnasium № 6, R.S. Dosanova. “No, it’s not because we don’t want to, but because we don’t have time, and there’s no opportunity to have a meaningful conversation.”

Limited opportunities for personal connections between teachers, parents, and students makes it harder to recognize when young people need additional support to deal with life’s challenges.

Ms. Dosanova says that all that changed when her school became part of the project “TEENS”. Launched in 2017 by the Women’s Leadership Fund, TEENS was developed in response to the high rate of teen suicide in Kazakhstan, and aims to promote awareness and early intervention mechanisms to support schools, families, and communities identify young people in crisis before its too late. The project builds on existing advisory and family assistance programs for youth suicide prevention available through education and health care institutions.

At School-Gymnasium № 6 TEENS is training psychologists and school counselors through a new method called “parent groups.” This method promotes strong family relationships, to serves as the first line of defense against youth suicide, according to the World Health Organization.

For Ms. Dosanova and her colleagues, the project brought new opportunities for personal and professional growth for teachers and parents. She says the trainings became an important part of their school routine. “They became an outlet for us, as necessary as air.”

“For me personally, the month of trainings marked a new phase in my life, no exaggeration. I have never looked so deeply into myself in my life. Receiving general theoretical and practical experience in this area was, for me as a teacher and as simply a person facing spiritual challenges, a true awakening.”

Ms. Dosanova says she and her colleagues saw the benefits of the new methods almost immediately. “The students started to trust us share their fears and problems, which they never did before. And as a bonus we became even closer as a teaching staff, which absolutely contributes to the effectiveness of our work, I am certain.”

TEENS was made possible by the Good Governance Initiative Fund, a project of the US Agency for International Development and the Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia. The Fund awards grants to traditionally underserved CSOs in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan to improve governance practice through improved public service delivery, public policy, and legislation.

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