Senior Corps RSVP Volunteers working to prevent veteran suicides

Local News

Local volunteers are working to save lives by teaching people how to help someone struggling with thoughts of suicide.

The Flint Hills Volunteer Center’s Senior Corps RSVP program recently started a suicide prevention task force. Task force member Elaine De Smedt said they have a wide range of experience.

“There’s seven members with backgrounds in psychology, nursing, medic, rehabilitation counseling, and grief and loss,” she said. 

The group is focusing its efforts on assisting veterans and seniors. They’re partnering with the SAVE Farm. The SAVE Farm is a program that teaches veterans how to make a living in agriculture.

The SAVE Farm president Gary LaGrange said it helps those struggling with PTSD and suicidal thoughts.

“They take fewer pills, they sleep better, they found purpose and enjoyment in life again,” LaGrange said. “And that’s our primary mission, to help them, so they don’t consider those things ever again.”    

Jo Heiman works for the SAVE Farm’s honey and beekeeping supply store. She said she doesn’t know where her husband would be without the program.

“From 2007 on, he’s had really bad issues with PTSD,” Heiman said. “Coming to this program has changed that a lot for him; has kind of given us a family to grow through all of those issues with, and essentially saved his life.”         

The Senior Corps RSVP Suicide Prevention task force plans to meet with other veterans at the farm.

“We’re going to be going out and talking with the veterans and helping educate them and helping educate the staff out there about suicide prevention and awareness,” De Smedt said.    

While the task force is focusing on reaching veterans and seniors with their suicide prevention trainings this year, they hope to expand to work with high schoolers next year.

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