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Anoka Schools Helps Struggling Students In Summer

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ANOKA, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — The largest school district in Minnesota is looking to support emotionally struggling students through the summer months.

The Anoka-Hennepin school district reported during the last school year more than 500 students talked with a trusted adult about depression, suicide or self destructive behavior.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Edgar Linares Reports

“It’s a small percentage of our 40,000 students, but the individual numbers are significant,” said Superintendent Dennis Carlson.

They report that within the last 12 to 14 months, eight students committed suicide in the Anoka-Hennepin School District.

Counselors report that suicide is the second leading cause of death among students in Minnesota. Carlson said that’s alarming and believes there are contributing factors.

“Our community faces a tough reality,” said Carlson. “In April Anoka County’s unemployment rate was 6.7 percent with almost 13,000 people looking for work. Last year in Anoka County there were more than 2,200 home foreclosures. This stress in families causes great stress on our students.”

With the school year coming to an end school officials want to offer struggling students help.

“There are many individuals who may suffer more when the structure and support of the school year ends,” said Carlson.

On Monday they will launch “Anoka-Hennepin Cares — Summer Support.”

Students can call (763) 433-4695 to get help from a trained counselor. School officials said the number isn’t a suicide hotline, but it is a place where students can begin getting help.

Karen Anderson is certified mental health therapist with the district. She says they’ve also begun monitoring text messages and Facebook accounts whenever a concern is brought to them.

“There were a number of tragedies that occurred in this community,” said Anderson. “They were quite overwhelming to the community. There were several suicides. There were several tragic motor vehicle incidents. “

The program will cost the district around $50,000 to $100,000. Carlson originally thought one person would be able to do the job, but now he feels two would be necessary.

The Summer Support program is working with Suicide Awareness Voices of Education or SAVE.

“I’m concerned that the support network is gone. And kids aren’t healed and families are still struggling. And they need the ongoing support of this community,” said Anderson.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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