“We are the village — you matter to me.”
That’s the message inscribed on blue paper hearts that will adorn the walls and windows of businesses around Mancos.
Shanda Stiles, Mancos Schools Pre-K-12 behavior specialist, is heading suicide prevention programs throughout September — National Suicide Prevention month.
The wording on the hearts was inspired by the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
Mancos is that village, Stiles said.
In 2020, 44,834 people in the U.S. took their own lives, a 5.6% decrease from 2019, when there were 47,511, according to provisional data from the CDC published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Stiles said the district wanted to focus on unifying and educating the community about suicide prevention this month.
“We matter to each other,” she said. “We need to help support each other.”
The blue paper hearts are a part of a fundraiser that will feed into local nonprofits that support students and the community. Stiles created the logo and hearts, and Mancos Middle School art students are cutting them out.
“We’re hoping to flood Mancos with these blue hearts,” Stiles said.
They can be purchased for $1 at nine local businesses.
Stiles also is organizing suicide prevention training sessions to be available to parents and the larger Mancos community — something that was offered only to school district staff and sometimes secondary students in the past, she said.
She hopes that from now on, the training will be hosted annually for the community.
A certified specialist in suicide prevention from the QPR Institute will lead two training sessions, one on Sept. 20 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and one on Sept. 27 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at 355 W. Grand Ave.
“I think that if we are more educated than we feel more empowered to help when we see the need,” she said.
Those interested in attending can register at bit.ly/Villagedoc.
It’s free, and each session can accommodate 20 people.
The training helps participants question subjects more effectively, refer individuals to caregivers and promote support in the community.