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New program aims to reach younger kids for suicide prevention

HELENA – A new program in East Helena Public Schools is hoping to prevent youth suicide by starting education much sooner.

The program is called the Good Behavior Game by Paxis Institute and was made possible by grants from American Chemet and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana totaling $15,000.

All East Helena teachers in grades kindergarten through third grade have been trained for the new program.

The Paxis Institute website says the Good Behavior Game is not a classroom behavior program, but rather a way to integrate cognitive, emotional and behavioral skills throughout any part of the school day.

Ron Whitmoyer, superintendent of East Helena Public schools, said students will be given situational problems that may occur during school and will role play how to work out issues positively.

“You try to reach out to them early they build that resiliency and ability to deal with real life situations through early practice.  We love public education because it gives kids a chance to be a melting pot and interact in so many different situations,” said Whitmoyer.

“We have this bravado in Montana that when something is wrong we tend to pull our boot straps up rub some dirt on it…and that doesn’t work with mental illness it’s really important to break down that stigma,” said John Doran, Divisional VP of External Affairs & Chief of Staff BCBS of Montana.

The Lewis and Clark library hosted a discussion on suicide prevention Wednesday night and will continue Thursday.

The meeting on Thursday begins at 3 p.m.

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