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Parents attend mental health session following latest Arapahoe High School student suicide

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CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Nine Arapahoe High School students have died by suicide since 2013. The most recent suicide happened on Monday.

Nonprofit mental health provider AllHealth Network hosted a “mental health session” Wednesday evening at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Centennial. Littleton Public Schools said it asked the nonprofit to host the event. The gathering was designed to help parents learn how best to support their children.

Additionally, Arapahoe High School has brought in mental health counselors to help kids at school.

“Everyday ... it’s up and down,” said Maria Bales, who lost her son, Nick, last year.

Maria and Will Bales are two of the parents suffering tremendous grief. They attended Wednesday’s meeting. Nick, who was an Arapahoe High School senior, died by suicide in 2018 at the age of 17.

“The best thing we can do is open that dialogue up with our kids and talk to them and ask them, ‘How are you feeling?’” Maria said.

In April, the Arapahoe High School Community Coalition released a survey showing overall concern about the school’s culture. But the Bales do not blame the school. They say their son struggled mentally.

“Families that think their kid might be at risk — they have to constantly be checking in with their kids to see how they are,” Will said.

Will and Maria are both on a mission to make a difference through their campaign via BroughtToReality.com. They say everyone can do their part — especially school administrators.

“I do believe with all my heart that the schools could do so much more to get involved — so that every day, there’s something positive for these kids,” Maria said.

FOX31 learned last week that researchers are going to start studying the Littleton School District and schools in Mesa County as part of a long-term study on youth suicide. The research will include focus groups of students, parents and staff.

To benefit parents watching on TV, FOX31 asked if cameras were allowed in the Wednesday meeting. Littleton Public Schools said the event was not open to media.

Suicide resources:

If you need tips on how to start a conversation about mental health with someone you care about, go to www.letstalkco.org.

If you are concerned about someone in your life, you can call the Colorado Crisis Hotline at 844-493-8255.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255): Speak with someone who will provide free and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To learn how to help someone in crisis, call the same number.

Colorado Crisis Services Hotline (1-844-493-8255): If you are in crisis or need help dealing with one, call 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255 to speak to a trained professional. When calling Colorado Crisis Services, you will be connected to a crisis counselor or trained professional with a master’s or doctoral degree.

The Trevor Project (1-866-488-7386): A 24/7 resource for LGBT youth struggling with a crisis or suicidal thoughts. The line is staffed by trained counselors.

Colorado Crisis Services Walk-In Locations: Walk-in crisis service centers are open 24/7, and offer confidential, in-person crisis support, information and referrals to anyone in need.

Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: (1-844-264-5437): The best resource for readers to report suspected child abuse and neglect.

The number serves as a direct, immediate and efficient route to all of Colorado’s 64 counties and two tribal nations, which are responsible for accepting and responding to child abuse and neglect concerns. All callers are able to speak with a call taker 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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