Amantha Dickman, News Director: You’re listening to “KZUM News” on 89.3 KZUM Lincoln and KZUM HD.
[Fades in on the “KZUM News” program music, an original production of Jack Rodenburg. The music fades out.]
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Good afternoon and welcome to today’s edition of “KZUM News,” an hour dedicated to learning more about what is going on in Lincoln and the surrounding areas. I am the News Director, and your host, Amantha Dickman.
Well, last week we went live for our first-ever show in honor of our fall fund drive. Now, as I mentioned last week, “KZUM News” isn’t normally done live so that we can ensure accurate in-depth reporting. It is one of our founding principles of how our newsroom functions, but of course, we make exceptions for special occasions. And today is another one of those special occasions.
We didn’t quite make our goal of $500 last week. So we are extending our fund drive through another week in hopes of making our goal. After all, newsrooms run on resources, and the resource we need the most here at “KZUM News” is funding. It helps keep our journalists out in the field, doing amazing work to help keep our communities informed. For example, we have election coverage coming up here shortly. In case you are losing track of time, that November 8 election is really only a month or two away. And after that, we have our media literacy series, which we will talk about more later. But I wanted to give you some examples of what your contributions help support with this program in particular.
So, of course, we appreciate any spare dollars you can throw our way. And if you have more than a couple of dollars that you’re willing to part with, you can also aim for one of those thank-you gifts. So we have that $60, which gets you that mug and coffee from the mill. $89.30 gets you our brand new astronaut-themed KZUM t-shirt. Personally, I’m a big fan. $120 gets you our t-shirt and your choice of a tote bag, socks, bandanas, or fleece hats. And $240 gets you one of our cozy hoodies. But, as I just mentioned, even a couple of spare dollars helps. I’d appreciate anything you could help throw my way to help me meet my $500 fundraising goal.
And, of course, I do want to thank everyone who’s already donated. You guys are so awesome in your support of our station.
Now… we are going to start our morning off with some relatively breaking news. And then we have a special issue lined up for you today, where we learn more about suicide prevention awareness month.
So, first up, [the] Lancaster County Election Commission has announced some upcoming voter registration sites in honor of national voter registration day on Tuesday, September 20. Keep that date in mind. So they want to remind everyone that any Nebraska resident who will be 18 on or before November 8 and wants to register or anyone who wants to make some changes to their voter registration, may do so at the following locations on Tuesday, September 20.
Now that first registration site will be at the County-City Building, at 555 South 10th Street from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The next site is the F Street Recreation Center at 1225 F Street, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. There will also be a site at the Belmont Recreation Center, at 1234 Judson Street, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. And then that last site is at the Calvert Recreation Center, at 45 Stockwell street, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Again, you can register to vote at those upcoming locations on Tuesday, September 20, 2022. And if you don’t have time to stop by on Tuesday at one of those locations, you can also register to vote through mail-in registration or by stopping at the election commissioner’s office at 601 North 46th Street, Lincoln, Nebraska. Their office is open weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
And then there is also a registration site at [the] 5020 North 27 Street Hy-vee today. And I believe that is open from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. But I will double-check that and let you guys know. And, of course, we will keep you posted as they release future voter registration sites as well.
Now we have our first story for the day.
September is suicide prevention awareness month.
According to the CDC, suicide is the leading cause of death in the United States. When they looked at their 2020 mortality data, the CDC found that suicide was among the top nine leading causes of death for people ages 10 to 64, and the second leading cause of death for individuals, age 10 to 14 and 25 to 34. And of course, as usual, you can find the link in today’s transcript as well
But in honor of suicide prevention awareness month, we met with Andrea Phillips and Ursula Vernon-Hansen of the Lincoln Public Schools to discuss the resources available to students, who tend to be the most at risk demographic. So here they are to tell us a little bit more.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: Can you state your name for us and your title?
Andrea Phillips, Coordinator for LPS Social Workers: Andrea Phillips, A-N-D-R-E-A. P-H-I-L-L-I-P-S. And I am the coordinator for school social workers at LPS.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: And then… yeah… like I said, when you talk, you look right at me. Do you want me to start or do you guys wanna start?
So we’re doing this story just because of suicide prevention week at LPS. Can you tell us a little bit about your work with that and kinda how you help students?
Andrea Phillips, Coordinator for LPS Social Workers: Absolutely. So there’s several different ways that we help students.
I would say one of the first ways, as we start off the new school year, is by training all LPS staff. So we have a suicide prevention training for all staff that’s mandatory. So even before school starts, they’re working on getting that done; and that just spreads awareness about suicide prevention, what to look for in students. So they will have that information. So I think that’s one really important piece is making sure all adults in the buildings have the information that they need, about what to look for. And that this is a really important thing to be educated about. So that’s one of the first things I would say we do.
We also do some signs of suicide lessons. We call it SOS at the secondary level, which is just educating kids about things to look for and giving them opportunities to reach out to adults in the building for help. So that’s a really important piece as well. One really cool thing, this year, is the back of high school ID badges have a code to scan that will take students to lots of important resources. But one of them is 988, which is the new national suicide prevention number. Which is really cool. They’ve been working a long time to get that to 988. So having that along with a lot of other resources available to students on the back of badges is a really cool thing that we did this year.
And… let’s see… So training and badges and SOS. And then suicide prevention week we sent out information to districtwide as far as suicide prevention videos, information, resources. It looked a little bit different between elementary and secondary schools, but we sent out all of that information districtwide just so parents could have those conversations with kids and recognize that this is an important topic and that we need to be talking about it. And knowing who the people are that students can go to for help.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: With the SOS curriculum, I guess, is that what you would call it? I mean, the SOS program that you do, what grades is that you said? Secondary, but specifically what grades do that?
Andrea Phillips, Coordinator for LPS Social Workers: It’s sixth, eighth and 10th. Okay. Sixth, eighth and 10th.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: And what kind of things do they learn through that?
Andrea Phillips, Coordinator for LPS Social Workers: That would probably be more of a Lori question. She’s more involved. The counselors are more involved with SOS than social workers are.
But it’s recognizing signs of suicide, things to be looking for in other students. Act as the acronym that we provide to students. So that they’re ‘Acknowledging’ that there’s some concern. ‘Care’ is the second part of it… caring about what someone’s sharing with you. And then ‘telling’ an adult is the really important part.
And, through that, we reach out to counselors, social workers, [and] identify people in the building that they can go to to seek help when they need it. And there’s a component of SOS that is… I don’t know if they do it through a form anymore, but they’re asking for someone to reach out to them if they have concerns at that time. So there is a lot of follow up by counselors and social workers after SOS lessons, there are quite a bit of students that reach out. And SOS is embedded in health curriculum at sixth, eighth, and 10th grade.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: So can you talk a little bit about how important having programs like this is, especially in schools, not only during this week, because of suicide prevention, but during the entire school year?
Andrea Phillips, Coordinator for LPS Social Workers: Well, sadly, we have, you know, experienced death by suicide with students within LPS. And so that is, I think, what is at the heart of this. And knowing that we don’t wanna lose another student to suicide.
And just making sure that students know that those supports and resources are out there. And, you know, we just want to keep plugging that as much as we can so that they know who to reach out to. And, even more so, sometimes students won’t come to us directly. But so students know what to look for in other students. And you know, that they may feel like they’re needing to keep a secret; but we just really teach them that it’s important not to keep a secret and this is a really serious matter. So if someone is talking to you about this, please let an adult know.
So I think that’s the really important piece of it is sometimes students are torn about if they should share this information or not. And we really want them to know that it’s important to reach out to an adult, to keep someone safe and that it can take just a little… just a little reaching out could save a life.
I mean, it really is as simple as reaching out to an adult and just letting them know can really save a life.
Unknown Reporter: What are some things that maybe parents can do for their kids to help with these sorts of things?
Andrea Phillips, Coordinator for LPS Social Workers: I think just having open conversations is a really important thing. Just about mental health in general… I think their stigma around mental health. And so just remembering that mental health, physical health, like it all goes together. And, so, acknowledging that it’s okay to talk about mental health and it’s okay to seek help for mental health.
You know, letting them know that, if there’s things that are hard, who is that a adult in your life that you can talk to about it? And that may not be a therapist or a psychologist. It may be somebody at their church or someone [who is] a family friend. But just having open conversations and talking to students about who is that adult that you can reach out to when you need help with something.
There’s some apps that are really cool that are like… they have you identify five or 10 people that are really important. And, so, in any type of crisis, you have those people and their contact information that you can reach out to.
So I think parents just talking to students about those types of things and making sure that they have someone to reach out to in those moments and knowing that it’s okay to talk about mental health and trying to reduce that stigma by saying “it’s okay if you want to talk with a counselor or a therapist, that’s okay. We’ll make it work.”
And we have some of those supports in-buildings. That’s one thing I didn’t mention. We have lots of contracted partners in the community for therapy. So we’re almost to the point where we have some therapy support in each building. Some of it might be half day a week, but we’re building up. And so we do have those supports for families that maybe don’t have access to outpatient therapy in the community. So that’s another really important piece.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: That was gonna be my next question… is what, what staff support do we have in building for students?
Andrea Phillips, Coordinator for LPS Social Workers: Yeah.
So at LPs we have school social workers in every building and they are licensed or provisionally licensed mental health practitioners. So they’re trained therapists. But we’re not able to provide therapy in that role. But we have those mental health clinicians in the buildings that are able to connect students, support students, get them connected to community resources.
We also have counselors in every building. And so school counselors are able to… they teach more of the tier-one support. So they are helping with classroom lessons that teach social-emotional learning to all students. And they also are helping with kind of pre-teaching and reteaching those social-emotional learning skills for students. And can also help, like social workers, in those types of situations where students are reaching out.
So counselors and social workers.
And then we also have psychologists and they are more involved with special education and things of those nature. But they are also individuals that can help out in those types of situations.
So we have all of those different people in the building. And then also these community-based therapists that are in most buildings that we can refer students to as well.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: Any questions? Is there anything that we might missed?
I’ll have you say and spell your first and last name and give us your title please?
Ursula Vernon-Hansen, Coordinator for the Crisis Team at LPS: Ursula Vernon-Hansen. U-R-S-U-L-A. Vernon-Hansen. V-E-R-N-O-N. Hyphen, Hansen: H-A-N-S-E-N.
And I’m the coordinator for the crisis team at Lincoln Public Schools.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: First, can you explain to us what the crisis team is, what they do?
Ursula Vernon-Hansen, Coordinator for the Crisis Team at LPS: The crisis team consists of about 30 staff members. We have psychologists, social workers, counselors, and nurses who are all on that team. This year we were able to add an additional member to meet student needs and staff needs as well. So we have nine members on each team, with a team leader on that team as well.
We rotate. So we will have a team on staff for one month and then that staff or that team will go off and then we’ll restart with another team.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: And is that team district wide?
Ursula Vernon-Hansen, Coordinator for the Crisis Team at LPS: That team is districtwide, yes. We will cover all LPS schools. And so, typically, that process will look like, if a principal receives information about the death of a student, we will then… that phone call will go to district office and we will start the procedures in terms of getting parent permission and, in addition, writing messages and comments that will go to our staff so they’re aware of what’s happened.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: And so what can you guys do in order to help students, if that situation were to occur?
Ursula Vernon-Hansen, Coordinator for the Crisis Team at LPS: First and foremost, we try to go into that school and support students. We try to acknowledge, first of all, acknowledge this death has occurred.
It’s a very difficult process, I mean, versus walking into elementary versus middle and high school as well. So we’re gonna see different reactions from those kids. So we’re gonna look at this from age and developmental stages as well. We’re gonna provide that support. We’re gonna let those students know that we’re there to do individual or short-term group counseling as well.
In addition, we’ll provide other resources. We really wanna focus at this point, how are you going to go through this grieving process in a healthy manner? So we’re gonna teach healthy coping skills. How can we work through this?
For many of our kids, it’s the first time they’ve experienced death. So in talking about that, it could be a very difficult topic.
We also look into kids who have had past histories, who have had trauma. So there’s a lot of things going on. I wanna say, within the team, that we’re researching and finding out about our students. So we have that information ahead of time. We will then make phone calls if we have any students that we’re concerned about. So parents, we always want our parents to be on board and know what’s going on. For sure. So they’re aware because we’re gonna encourage our parents at the end of the evening to take that time to talk to your child. Who, you know, what would you do if this was a bad day, or if this was your worst day, what are your coping mechanisms? Who are your trusted adults in the building and who are your trusted adults at home? Who can you turn to?
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: So is that more of the prevention aspect of it? Just having parents reach out to their kids and stuff like that?
Ursula Vernon-Hansen, Coordinator for the Crisis Team at LPS: Absolutely. I’d say that’s part of our education through LPS too.
We encourage parents to talk to their children as much as they possibly can. Of course, we also say, “Listen. Your child may come home and just wanna share that information, may not necessarily want any comments. But, after, there may be a teachable moment where you can explain and share.”
You know, just as I was saying before, kids react differently to death. So if we’ve had a death in the family, that may hit that family even harder or trauma may hit that family even harder. So just encouraging. So we do like to provide parents with education. How do I talk to my child? What types of questions would I ask and how do I support [them]?
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: Can you get into those stats you were just talking about a little bit ago? The Bryan Health statistics, at least.
Ursula Vernon-Hansen, Coordinator for the Crisis Team at LPS: Okay. So does anybody know the exact Bryan Health statistics?
So, because I don’t have it in front of me…
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: Yeah, that’s fine.
Ursula Vernon-Hansen, Coordinator for the Crisis Team at LPS: Okay.
Unknown Reporter: Could you maybe talk about like some of the specific things that you say to someone who’s in crisis to help them out?
Ursula Vernon-Hansen, Coordinator for the Crisis Team at LPS: Yes. I mean… so if we’re talking to a student, once again, based on age…
Oops, I’m gonna start over. Okay.
So if we’re talking to a student, based on age, we’re gonna ask those questions accordingly. So when we talk about an elementary-age child, we may have that child sharing with us other deaths they’ve experienced. And that may be the death of a fish or death of a pet. So, of course, we’re gonna ask open-ended questions. How did you hear about this information? How did you feel after you heard about this information? We may even go into feeling identification. What does it feel like to be sad when you’re sad? What are some of the things that you can do to help you feel better?
One of our main goals also of the crisis team is to have our kids experience what we would call the most normal day possible. Which is difficult, especially if you’ve had a death of a friend, but how can we make that day look as normal? So it’s, you know, we have structure, consistency, everything that we normally would have.
As we move into middle and high school level, we talk more directly about it. Students are able to tell us, when did you first hear about this? And, now, with social media, they oftentimes hear this news maybe before we even do. And so, through that discussion, we’re going to let them guide. Let them discuss where they wanna go. But, of course, we’re gonna talk about what are some ways that you can take care of yourself. So a huge piece for us is what are you doing today to take care of yourself? What are you, you know, whether that’s drinking water, exercising, making sure you have [the] emotional supports that you need? But just making sure those and that the focus is on themselves too.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: So that… there’s a lot of self-care. And so in talking about suicide prevention week, what are the main points that you want to get across to students, teachers just about what LPS is doing or what you were doing specifically?
Ursula Vernon-Hansen, Coordinator for the Crisis Team at LPS: Okay. I suppose first and foremost, everybody has the power to save a life. And so that’s the most powerful piece that we can teach.
Not only our parents, our staff, but our kids. So when we go through that curriculum, when we talk about SOS – signs of suicide – or we even start teaching our middle to high school kids ACT – act, care, tell – we’re giving our kids permission. This is not tattling. This is telling an adult, a trusted adult that can get you help. And so it’s so important to send those messages.
Education? I would say, yes. Let’s educate our kids. Educate our kids on what suicide is, how can we prevent suicide. What are some of the steps that you need to take to have a well-balanced life, a healthy life, and that you feel good about too? And once again, who do you turn to. When it’s a bad day or when it’s your worst day, have your kids have those ideas in their mind. But I also feel good about the fact that we’ve branched out.
We’re doing a lesson. So a lesson will go out through middle and high school kids as well on suicide, giving some information, helping remind them about who to turn to, just letting ’em know we’re in the building.
Anybody who needs support or help, we’re there to do that.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: Any additional questions anybody has? Is there anything that we might have missed, that you think is important to include or any just final comments?
Ursula Vernon-Hansen, Coordinator for the Crisis Team at LPS: I’m just gonna keep going over that one. We have the power. We truly have the power to save a life.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: Yes, absolutely. Awesome.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: That was Andrea Phillips, a student services coordinator for counseling, and Ursula Vernon-Hansen, a crisis team leader, with Lincoln Public Schools, discussing the resources available to students who are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Now we are getting ready to take a quick break. But, once we come back, we’re going to discuss that 988 dialing code that was mentioned several times by Andrea and Ursula. We’re also going to sit down with Kaylee Denker and officer Tim Dolberg, the mental health coordinator for the Lincoln Police Department. So don’t forget to tune in for that.
In the meantime, I’d like to remind you that it is fund drive season! “KZUM News” is still a relatively new program. We’ve only been on the air for about four months now. Maybe almost five. Math is hard, especially this early in the morning. But even though we are just getting started, we have big plans. In the short term, we are looking to get funding so that we can improve our website interface. This would make those archives more accessible and allow us to create a more comprehensive newsroom landing page so that “KZUM News” can become an information hub for Lincoln and the surrounding communities. And, eventually, I would love to expand our newsroom to include paid internships for students to help get them out in the field where they can work their magic. If we can manage that, then we can expand our program to run daily, bringing you not just relatively breaking news, but actual breaking news.. And the money you donate during our fund drives can help put those plans into action.
As I mentioned earlier, we have a goal of $500 dollars. We are currently sitting at $178.60 thanks to everyone who has already donated. But if you are interested in throwing a couple of spare dollars our way, you can head to kzum.org and hit that ‘donate’ button or you can give me a call at (402) 474 – 5086 extension line 1. I am hanging out in the studio today, so I will be answering those phone calls myself.
And while you consider hitting that donate button, we’re gonna head into that break. And you’ll hear from me afterwards.
[Fades in on the “KZUM News” between-segment music, an original compilation by Jack Rodenburg. The music fades out on the commercial break. Once again, the music fades in on the “KZUM News” between-segment music.]
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Welcome back to today’s episode of “KZUM News.”
We are here, live in the studio, for the second week of our fall fund drive. This is our second *ever* live show for “KZUM News.” And this is my first time doing this show completely on my own, working the board and everything. So I’m glad you’re keeping me company this afternoon while I test run.
Now, before the break, we began talking about Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. When they looked at their 2020 mortality data, the CDC found that suicide was among the top 9 leading causes of death for people ages 10 – 64 and the second leading cause of death for individual ages 10-14 and 25-34. We already met with Andrea Phillips and Ursula Vernon-Hansen of the Lincoln Public Schools to talk about the resources available to our students, most of who fall into that at-risk age range.
During our sit-down, Angela and Ursula both mentioned the ways Lincoln Public Schools teach their students to recognize the signs of self-harm and suicidal thoughts. But Kaylee Denker, a student at Lincoln East High School, is here to tell us a little more about the importance of peer support when struggling with mental health.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: And this is gonna be the hardest question we ask you. Can you say and spell your first and last name for us?
Kaylee Denker, a Senior at East High School: Kaylee Danker. K-A-Y-L-E-E. D-E-N-K-ER.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: Okay. What grade are you in, Kaylee?
Kaylee Denker, a Senior at East High School: I’m a senior.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: Senior! Exciting.
Okay. So first, like I said, this week is suicide prevention week. You guys learn some suicide prevention kind of techniques when you’re in school at a couple [of] different grade levels, right? Can you tell me what you guys learn?
Kaylee Denker, a Senior at East High School: I’d say in health classes, you learn how to cope more. Being involved in HOPE squad, it’s a lot easier to learn different curriculum about how to react when something… or when you’re struggling with something, I’d say.
For the national HOPE squad council, we’re doing a lot of conferences with many people that have higher roles. And so getting them involved has helped a lot. Right now we’re preparing for a conference on September 29 and we’re split up into different groups. Each group will have 10 minutes to talk about how you can get more involved with suicide prevention. And my group is getting the community involved. So telling people around you, how to cope differently.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: And what are some of those coping methods that you’ve learned either through HOPE squad or, you know, through school, through health class? What are some of those? Can you talk a little about them?
Kaylee Denker, a Senior at East High School: So like… journaling about how you feel, talking to trusted people.
Oftentimes people don’t really like to go to school counselors and stuff right away, just because they’re scared. Sometimes they don’t want their parents to find out. But that’s what HOPE squad is: you go to your peers and then your peers will assist you to who you feel comfortable with.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: And why do you think it’s important? Because I think, this morning, we talked to a few counselors and social workers and they said you learn things at grades like sixth grade, eighth grade, and then sometime in high school too. Why do you think it’s important to learn those strategies throughout your time in school?
Kaylee Denker, a Senior at East High School: I think it’s important because you’re… everyone’s gonna be involved in a lot of stuff, whether you’re in extracurriculars or not. But you’re always gonna have stress and you’re gonna need to know how to cope with that.
And, as you get older, you’re gonna get more involved with the things that you do. So just knowing how to be able to stay strong through it all is really important.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: Yeah, for sure. What made you wanna get involved with the HOPE squad national council?
Kaylee Denker, a Senior at East High School: For East HOPE squad, I’ve been involved ever since I was a freshman. That was the first year that we’ve ever done this.
I’ve always been involved.
I had a friend that was really struggling with mental health when I was in middle school. And so I was always passionate about talking about mental health and, being a three-sport athlete, I’ve always known that it’s super hard sometimes to get through some stuff. But once I found out, this past year, that I could be on the national HOPE squad council, I was super intrigued. So right away, I filled out the application and I submitted it. And yeah. There’s thirty-six members in the group nationwide. I’m the only one from Nebraska.
So yeah, it was really inspiring to me to try to make sure that everyone knows what we are, what we do, how we can help.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: And can you go into that a little bit? I mean, you kind of touched on it before, but what does HOPE squad do? What is it?
Kaylee Denker, a Senior at East High School: It’s a group for high school students to be in. And you talk to people that are struggling with their mental health, and then you follow this, I don’t even know how to explain it, but you basically help them.
You guide them to different teachers, administration, counselors, social workers, and then that’s who they can talk to during school.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: You help connect them. And so that’s, you know, peers helping peers, right? Why do you think that’s important? Why do you think it’s more comfortable for peers to come to you
Kaylee Denker, a Senior at East High School: I think it’s super nerve wracking to sometimes go up to somebody that you don’t really know and just explain everything that’s going on in your life. But it’s super easy if I have a friend. Then that’s who I’m gonna be talking to. I’m not gonna go up to a random stranger and just be like, “I know you’re certified to do this, but this is what’s happening.”
So. That’s it.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: So suicide prevention week… why do you think it’s important for, you know, students to learn about, you know, steps to either help themselves or help their friends? Like you were kind of talking about… you said you’re a three-sport athlete. That’s yeah… crazy. So I’m sure you have a lot going on, you know. Why… how has it been beneficial for you to learn about different ways to kind of cope with that stress?
Kaylee Denker, a Senior at East High School: It’s super hard to cope with something sometimes.
For me, personally, I’ve always had a strong support system throughout my family and friends. But I know that not everyone has that at their home.
And so learning how they can better themselves before trying to better others is super important because you have to put yourself before other people sometimes. So that’s the main thing.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: What would you say to someone who might be interested in, you know, either joining hope squad or kind of getting involved with this, like you have?
Kaylee Denker, a Senior at East High School: Right now East is the only person that has a HOPE… or is the only school that has a HOPE squad right now.
But I know that a lot of schools or the district is really trying to push HOPE squads in a lot of schools. But I’d say that it’s definitely something that you should look into because whether you think you’re good at communicating about it or not, everyone has their own voice. And as many ideas as you can put together is just the better the program’s gonna be.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: Yeah, absolutely. do you guys have any questions?
Samantha Bernt, Reporter for 10/11 News: Just to kind of clarify; so HOPE squad… there’s a squad here at East and then there’s a national level of it?
Kaylee Denker, a Senior at East High School: Yeah.
Samantha Bernt, Reporter for 10/11 News: Okay, perfect.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: Yeah, I can send you guys the link to that too. Kaylee’s on the website. Is there anything else about either your involvement with HOPE squad or just like suicide prevention in general that you want to mention, or that you think is important to mention?
Kaylee Denker, a Senior at East High School: I’d say just stay strong and not everyone’s gonna be able to cope the same way. So don’t try to push yourself to do something that someone else is doing because it may not work for you. You have to find your own path, find out how you personally get along with everything.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: Danielle, do you think there’s anything else that we might missed or…
Danielle Swanson, Lincoln East High School Social Worker: I don’t think so.
Samantha Bernt, Reporter for 10/11 News: Would you say that like comfortability is kind of adding a prevention aspect in there? Just like making kids feel comfortable, someone they can go to.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: Can you talk a little bit about that? Like why. Or like, I guess, how would you phrase that?
Samantha Bernt, Reporter for 10/11 News: Like, why is that important? That kids have someone they feel comfortable going to, whether it be a peer, a teacher or counselor?
Danielle Swanson, Lincoln East High School Social Worker: And maybe talk about how the goal of HOPE squad is to have all people and diversities represented, so that way there’s always, or hopefully, always a person that peers can look to in the HOPE squad and identify somewhere along that line.
Kaylee Denker, a Senior at East High School: So I think it’s important because, if you feel alone then you’re gonna look up to somebody or look forward to talking to somebody that’s like you. But if you don’t have that person or you don’t have that support system, that’s gonna be a lot harder to try to manage everything, figure everything out.
Sometimes even just like workload or school… it’s hard to get through. And I know that a lot of people at East struggle with just getting through schoolwork and stuff, and that doesn’t even count work and sports and all that. But if you have someone that does the same activities as you, or works at the same job, or looks like you, it’s a lot easier to talk to somebody about it. That way you don’t feel as alone.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: Yeah. I know on the back of your badges, there’s a QR code, right? Where does that take you?
Kaylee Denker, a Senior at East High School: There’s suicide hotlines. Like prevention hotlines.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: Why do you think that’s helpful to have that? That’s a new thing, right?
Danielle Swanson, Lincoln East High School Social Worker: Yeah. The QR code is, yeah.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: Why do you think that’s helpful that for everyone to kind of have that easier access to that?
Kaylee Denker, a Senior at East High School: I feel like sometimes people don’t really know what resources are out there for them. But if resources are right in front of you, and you can see it every single day, then you know that people are there for you and you can talk to anyone.
988 is a good number to call if you feel like you’re having some… if you’re struggling with mental health. It’s a 24/7 suicide prevention hotline. So it’s super easy to access.
BriAna Wycoff, LPS Communications Specialist: Yeah. Anything else, guys? Anything else you wanna say? You think we got it all? I think you got it all. Okay.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: That was Kaylee Denker, a student at Lincoln East High School, telling us more about the importance of peer-support when struggling with mental health.
Now, we have one more break scheduled this afternoon. But before I turn the commercials loose, I want to quickly remind you that we are in the second week of KZUM’s fall fund drive.
I’ve talked about how the money “KZUM News” raises will be used to expand the newsroom with paid internships and building our program out to run daily. I could honestly talk forever about all of the plans KZUM radio has for our newsroom. And it would probably bore you senseless so I won’t do that.
However, I will ask you to throw some money our way. “KZUM News” has a goal of $500 dollars. We are currently sitting at (188.60). We’ve had several wonderful people donate to our show already, so thank you folks again. If you want to donate, I’m here by the phones. You can dial us at (402) 474 – 5086 extension line one OR you can head over to kzum.org. We have a giant red ‘DONATE’ button on our home page. I appreciate any help you can give us.
Alright. It’s break time but I’ll catch up with you in a moment to finish out our special issue with an interview with officer Tim Dolberg, one of the mental health coordinators with the Lincoln Police Department.
[Fades in on the “KZUM News” between-segment music, an original compilation by Jack Rodenburg. The music fades out on the commercial break. Once again, the music fades in on the “KZUM News” between-segment music.]
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Today’s we’ve talked extensively about how Lincoln Public Schools work to bring awareness to suicide prevention. This is a prominent issue for schools across the nation since the CDC’s 2020 mortality data found that suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals age 10 – 14. This data also shows that suicide is among the top 9 leading causes of death for people ages 10 – 64 and the second leading cause of death for individual age 25-34.
And that’s a wide age range. So sitting down with us now is Officer Tim Dolberg. Officer Dolber is a mental health coordinator with the Lincoln Police Department.
Investigator Tim Dolberg, Officer with the Lincoln Police Department: Good morning. How are you?
Amantha Dickman, News Director: I’m good. How are you?
Investigator Tim Dolberg, Officer with the Lincoln Police Department: Not too bad. It is Friday. So that’s always a positive.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: I take it that you have your weekends off, then
Investigator Tim Dolberg, Officer with the Lincoln Police Department: I do. I do. Yes. I’m off Saturdays and Sundays and work from about 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: So perfect. Then let’s go ahead and get started.
Okay. So we’re here talking about suicide prevention awareness month, which is running for September. And then it’s also a specialized week from the fourth through the 10th in September as well.
To start us off, we’ve already talked with LPS about the resources available to students, but the one thing that we don’t often talk about is recognizing those early warning signs of self-harm. Can you tell us a little bit about what individuals should be keeping an eye out for, with their friends and families?
Investigator Tim Dolberg, Officer with the Lincoln Police Department: Sure, absolutely.
So there are several warning signs that all families and loved ones and anybody really close to an individual who may be struggling to look out for. But I think before we even get to that it’s to take a look at the risk factors that can kind of play in. And then we can talk a little bit about the warning sign.
So while these aren’t always, you know, steadfast predictors of an individual who may be contemplating or having attempted suicide it’s a good idea to, if these things do exist, to really pay attention to some of these things. So that could be things like depression, conduct disorders, substance use disorders, things like that. But then, of course, family stress or dysfunction within the family unit itself are definitely risk factors. Environmental risks like easily accessible firearms or deadly weapons within the home that that youth may have access to. So just to make sure that we’re putting those into safe and secure locations and, and making sure that those are not as accessible. And then situational crises, like a death in the family, physical/sexual abuse within the family unit. And then, of course, violence within the family, domestic violence situations are things that are also considered risk factors for those, especially for youth who are still developing and learning. And you know, it makes a big difference for those [individuals].
So then we need to take a look at the warning signs. The most obvious ones are when a youth comes out and just says, “I’d like to go to sleep and not wake up in the morning,” or “I’m going to kill myself,” or “I’m thinking about killing myself.” Those are obviously the most obvious ones.
But then we look at things like, you know, journaling and writing things, suicide notes. If parents or loved ones stumble across something like that, clearly that is a big cue that we need to take a look at a little more closely. And then, if there’s a history of maybe self-harm, so maybe testing… while, you know, self-cutting and things like that are not necessarily meaning or indicative of suicide, they can be progressors to kind of getting up to that level of attempting on their life. And then things like making final arrangements you know. Getting rid of really prize possessions, things that are very near and dear to that youth’s heart that they start just giving away.
Those are things that are kind of red flags.
And then… things like changes in behavior and appearance and things like that are also things that, that youth, and families, and schools, and people close should pay close attention to. At the end of the day, it’s really about knowing that person’s baseline and knowing, okay, this is how they’re doing on a good day. These are the things that, if they divert from those, and, you know, seem to be very preoccupied on death or start making suicidal comments, clearly, that’s outside of their baseline. And maybe we need to start asking a few more questions, see what we can do, try to do to get resources to that individual obviously very quickly, and take it very seriously.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: I’ve also heard it mentioned that sometimes individuals might experience an upswing in behavior where they start to act happier around families. And then, out of nowhere, families are surprised when this individual will commit suicide. Can you tell us a little bit more about why that is what’s happening with that behavior pattern?
Investigator Tim Dolberg, Officer with the Lincoln Police Department: Yeah. And so I think a lot of that goes back to just understanding that individual’s baseline. And so if they are not always, you know, extremely jovial and energetic and, you know, you just gotta understand their baseline. And so if they start acting out in ways that are not indicative of how they live their day to day, life, keep an eye on those things.
But also it’s important for families and schools to understand that it’s about just remaining calm, understand that it is a situation that’s very serious. But to go in with a very non-judgmental, you know, tone and remaining calm, but then asking them just the tough question: Are you thinking about killing yourself?
Obviously, in the situation that you said, it’s really difficult to try to say, “okay, well he or she is very happy right now.” You know. And that’s a good thing. We like to see people happy and then tragedy can strike. And it’s really tough to predict things like that. But again, it just goes back to understanding that individual’s baseline.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: So you are a crisis coordinator for the Lincoln Police Department. Can you tell me a little bit about the resources that the Lincoln Police Department can help connect our communities with to help prevent this self-harm or suicidal thoughts… or tendencies?
Investigator Tim Dolberg, Officer with the Lincoln Police Department: Absolutely.
So I’ve been in this position for about two years now. It was a position that didn’t exist and it was kind of duties that were spread throughout the department. And we recognize that it’s something that needs to happen. Not only for to help relieve some things for the street officers who are out there working these calls day in, day out. But to be able to coordinate things on the back end and try to get resources to those that need them. Especially if they’re those that we tend to see more, of the familiar faces that we see regularly, and try to get them the resources that they really need.
And so, in my position, I am able to build those relationships with all the organizations that we have that provide resources to those in the community and try to figure out new and innovative ways to introduce new programming and resources to those that really need them.
And so some of the resources that we use are… it really just kind of depends on the severity of where the individual’s at. So if it’s somebody who’s, maybe… just, you know, a little bit down, needs a little extra support, whether it’s financial, you know, finding things or additional mental health resources we can send a referral to the Mental Health Association’s REAL program.
That’s more predominantly towards the adult population, with the new help with some of the older teenagers that they’ll go and respond within less than 12 hours and make contact with that youth’s family or that individual, that adult, and see what they can do to try to impact their lives positively through their own lived experiences.
So the REAL program is made up of peers, which have been going through their own recovery and understand the system and are able to get people plugged in, obviously on a voluntary basis. And that individual would like those resources.
If it’s something that is right here right now, it’s a crisis. We need to get somebody out there. We have 24/7, 365 access to CenterPointe’s crisis response team. That’s a great partnership where, if we contact CenterPointe, they’ll get somebody out to our location, whether it’s a clinician or a peer, typically within 15 minutes. They can get out to an officer on [the] scene, conduct additional assessments whether it’s suicidality or more of a mental health crisis assessment that they can go through, and really try to get that individual plugged into whatever resource they need right then and there.
And if it’s something that we find that it’s not an immediate danger or risk to somebody they’ll obviously plant the seed that, “Hey, we would like to continue this relationship, this conversation, and we will touch base with you within the next business day.”
So they’re a very good resource for us and are there whenever we need them. So, like I said, 24/7, 365. It could be 2:00 a.m. and we can get somebody out there on scene with us.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Yeah.
And then I noticed you didn’t mention it. However, we recently announced the 988 new dialing code. Can you tell us a little bit more about that 988 dialing code and your relationship with the national suicide prevention lifeline?
Investigator Tim Dolberg, Officer with the Lincoln Police Department: Absolutely.
So it did kick off in July. I was fortunate enough to kind of be in the front end of the process to kind of give the law enforcement perspective. Really, what it is, it’s a simplification of the national suicide prevention hotline. But we’re really trying to push it more towards a mental health crisis line and a preventative thing. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be that a crisis is going on right here, right now. But it’s also for family and friends that, if they’re concerned, they can reach out to a very easy digit – 988 – and speak with a crisis counselor to try to figure out what the best steps are going forward. Or if an individual is in that state of crisis or really just feeling not well and potentially has some suicidal ideation, they can reach out to 988 as well.
And the way it goes is that if the crisis counselor on the line feels that there’s a more immediate response that’s needed, they can then forward that call on to, say, an organization like CenterPointe’s crisis response team. And then CenterPointe’s crisis response team worker, whether it’s a clinician or peer, can assess if they need to go have a face-to-face with that individual or if they can handle it over the phone and have a face-to-face with them, you know, within the next 12 to 24 hours.
That can also lead to calls to 911. So we are very much integrated so that, if there’s a call that goes into 988 that is probably more suitable for law enforcement’s immediate response, they can then transfer that to our 911 center and get us out there to try and help and assist that individual in crisis.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And then you mentioned that, obviously, if families are noticing these warning signs of suicidal behaviors, or suicidal tendencies, or self-harm behaviors, that they should look at removing guns and removing excessive amounts of pills, that sort of thing that an individual might use to hurt themselves.
But in an event that a tragedy does happen and a family experiences loss. What sort of resources do those families have to handle that grief afterwards?
Investigator Tim Dolberg, Officer with the Lincoln Police Department: Right. And it is such a difficult and complex situation. And our hearts always go out to those that are survivors of suicide.
And they have access to all the resources that everybody else does. But one, in particular, is a Nebraska LOSS team, which stands for local outreach to suicide-loss survivors. And it’s an organization that was established many years ago. And we had the Lincoln Police Department who have to respond to those scenes and really try to help provide that sense of calm in the midst of [the] chaos that is a scene such as this. We have to be able to provide them some kind of resource and the LOSS team is a great resource for that. Which, typically, our policy is that, if we do respond to one, we mention the LOSS team to the family and we make a referral to the LOSS team so that the LOSS team can then do what they call a “call-out” and reach out to the family and see what they can do to try to support them.
The LOSS team is typically made up of a mental health professional and an actual survivor of suicide themselves, who’s experienced that in the family. So they have that lived experience to really be able to connect with that family and let them know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. And we are here to help you work through this difficult time. And it really is a great resource and a great partnership we have and very much value Dr. Don Belau, creator of the LOSS team here in Nebraska.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Yeah. And then I don’t have any other questions. However, are there any comments that you would like to add or anything you feel we haven’t touched base on today that is important to this subject?
Investigator Tim Dolberg, Officer with the Lincoln Police Department: I think really it is just… I always goes back to understanding that individual’s baseline. And if you feel that an individual is moving more towards suicide and understanding those risk factors and really people just doing their research, and it’s not about just one month, it’s about this, you know, this should be something that we’re talking about every month, every year, all year long. And really just keeping your eye out for those things.
And if you do need help, law enforcement is here to come and assist. We will show up with a non-judgemental ear and we will be there to do whatever we can to provide you whatever resources you need. And just know that we are here and we are allied in this.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Excellent. Well, thank you so much for joining me today. Officer Dolberg,
That was Office Tim Dolberg, the Mental Health Coordinator for the Lincoln Police Department speaking about recognizing the early warning signs for suicide, that new 988 dialing code that connects to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and what steps families can take to help reduce the chances of self-harm.
Now, I know we’ve talked about a variety of important resources today. To make sure that these resources are readily accessible to everyone, we are including a list of links to those resources in today’s transcript. You can find them at the bottom of the page, as well as linked wherever they are mentioned.
Now we have a couple minutes left in to… in today’s program. Man. Talking is really hard in the morning it turns out. But if you’re just joining us, welcome to the party. You can catch up with the rest of the show at kzum.org under the “KZUM News” archive. We update every Tuesday. If you’ve been listening since 11:00 a.m., thank you for spending your afternoon with me as we kick off our second week of the fall fund drive and watching me – well listening to me – enjoy my first attempt at running the board by myself.
I’ve talked a lot about the fund drive and the role it plays in making sure our newsroom has all of the resources we need to keep you up to date on local news. While those are great reasons to donate, today I want to talk about my experiences here at KZUM.
Our staff and programmers, keep pointing out to me that our listeners and our community don’t know a lot about me. And that is my own fault. I’ve never been particularly good at talking about myself. But I do realize that isn’t fair, especially not when I’m asking our community to engage with me on a regular basis.
So I want to tell you a little bit about me and how I began the process of building the KZUM newsroom.
So when I was being interviewed, Kerry was telling me a lot about their vision for what this program would be. And I had basically come in and I was like, “this is what I think we should do.”
And we had a series of meetings for the sole purpose of establishing our ethics guidelines on how our newsroom would operate. Even now, we still regularly have conversations about the responsibilities we have as a newsroom, and we want you to be a part of that conversation also. That’s why we are currently working to put together the media literacy series that I mentioned earlier.
Now, if you haven’t heard me talk on and on about it yet, we are currently in the process of organizing this series, to bring together educators and news professionals from across Nebraska so that we can discuss why our newsrooms make the choices that we do, how our newsrooms function day to day, and what choices are motivated by what ethics and our guidelines.
So we are preparing for that right now. And in preparation for it, we have a survey which you can find the QR code to on our social medias, as well as our links to it in today’s transcripts. I would like to encourage you to go out, please share your thoughts. We wanna know a little bit more about your perceptions of local news.
Now I know that we’ve only got like 20 seconds left, so we will wrap up here shortly.
We are fast approaching the end of the hour, so here are your reminders for today:
The KZUM newsroom is always open to hearing about any questions, concerns, suggestions, or even any story ideas that you want to share with us. All you have to do is give us a call at (402) 474 – 5086, extension line six. If you give us a call and we aren’t available, don’t forget to leave a voicemail. Or, if you aren’t much of a phone person, you can also find our social media handles and more newsroom information at kzum.org under that ‘About’ tab.
Speaking of our website, if you happen to miss a show, you can always head to the “KZUM News” tab where we archive all of our shows and include a transcript with links to that day’s content.
And, lastly, I just want to give a shout-out to Jack Rodenburg of the Rodenburg music experience. He put together all of the amazing original music that our news program uses. So, once again, thank you, Jack.
That wraps up our reminders for now. As you head out into the world, I hope you have a lovely day. Thank you for listening and we hope you’ll join us next time.
[Fades in on the “KZUM News” program music, an original production of Jack Rodenburg. The music fades out.]
You just finished listening to “KZUM News,” an original production of KZUM radio that airs every Saturday at 11:00 a.m. Coming up next is “Beta Radio,” so stay tuned.
Call, chat, or text 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
Text HOME to 741 741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.
In case of a life-threatening emergency, please call 911.
CenterPointe: (402) 475 – 5161 OR click here for their website.
Nebraska LOSS Teams: (402) 440 – 1633 OR click here to find a team near you.
The Trevor Project: Click here to access phone, chat, or text options for their help line.
Nebraska Youth Suicide Prevention: Click here to get in contact with their partners.