Northwest NEWS

February 14, 2000

Front Page

Team's essay receives national recognition


Northshore's Rhonda McKim is a member of a team chosen to present their abstract paper at a national health conference in Washington, D.C. Left to right: Rhonda McKim, "Every Teen Counts" chairperson; Leah Simpson, co-chair, Washington State Youth Suicide Prevention Committee; and Sue Eastgard, director, Youth Suicide Prevention Program.

by Marshall Haley, staff reporter

   BOTHELL--Rhonda McKim, RN, president of the Northshore School District PTSA, was part of a three-woman team chosen to present an abstract paper on preventing youth suicide at a national health conference in Washington, D.C., Jan. 24-28.

   McKim wrote the paper in collaboration with Sue Eastgard, MSW, current director of the Washington State Youth Suicide Prevention Program, and Leah Simpson, member of the Washington State Youth Suicide Prevention Committee. The abstract was ranked number two out of 1,100 abstract papers submitted to the "Partnerships for Health in the New Millennium: Launching Healthy People 2010" conference.

   McKim and her two partners received a scholarship from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to attend the conference sponsored by several federal agencies. Sponsoring agencies included the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.

   Otherwise called "Healthy People 2010," the conference outlined a comprehensive, nationwide health promotion and disease prevention agenda designed to improve the health of all U.S. people during this decade, said McKim.

   The abstract text states, in part, "Washington State PTA joined forces with the Youth Suicide Prevention Program and a citizens' advisory group (Washington Youth Suicide Prevention Committee) to address the high incidence of youth suicide in our state. This collaboration brought together the passion, expertise, and commitment of a mental health professional, a mother who survived her adolescent son's suicide, and a community organizer/child advocate. The partnership resulted in a public education campaign designed for parents/caregivers, educators, and community to: raise awareness about the problem of youth suicide; increase knowledge about the warning signs and intervention strategies; and decrease the myths and taboos associated with the subject."

   The presentation by McKim and her partners included an information packet, a slide show, and a curriculum (with overheads and video) for a short educational presentation. They shared preliminary outcome data and recommendations for replications of the model in other communities.

   The presentation had three learning objectives: to understand the value of community collaboration in addressing the youth suicide problem; to learn the components of a public education campaign for suicide prevention; and to recognize the steps for intervening with an at-risk youth (show you care, ask the question, go for help).