Simple, yet powerful

Leslie Smith Enlarge photo

Leslie Smith

Second Wind Fund is a youth suicide prevention organization whose mission is to decrease the incidence of youth suicide. It was founded in 2002 in Denver in response to four teen suicides in one school year at a Jefferson County high school.

Shaken by these tragedies, concerned community members organized a small walk/run event to raise money to help the school. Unsure of how best to help the teens affected, community members met with high school counselors to determine the best use of the money raised. The counselors’ input led to the creation of Second Wind Fund with the following objectives designed to reduce teen suicide in the community:

Work with referral sources to identify youths at risk for suicide.

Link suicidal students with immediate, appropriate counseling services provided by a network of licensed, trained therapists.

Remove financial barriers for young people who otherwise cannot afford mental-health counseling.

Seeing the success of Second Wind Fund in the Denver area over the last eight years, Durango therapists advocating for area youths initiated a SWF affiliate in La Plata and Montezuma counties in January 2010. Modeled after the SWF of Metro Denver, Second Wind Fund of Four Corners Colorado developed a local program to address similar obstacles faced by young people at risk for suicide.

Second Wind Fund of Four Corners Colorado’s model is simple, yet powerful. Suicidal teens are quickly connected with the therapy they need by circumventing the administrative hassle and delay of conventional pre-approvals, monthlong waits to initiate counseling and long delays between sessions. Simply stated, our speedier approach saves lives; a suicidal teen often cannot wait the time associated with managed care. SWFFCC ensures teens are seen quickly by professionals with expertise in counseling young people. Its referral process is revolutionary in the world of mental-health services because of its emphasis on access and immediate response to the specific needs of suicidal youths.

Second Wind Fund of Four Corners Colorado has developed a pool of therapists in both counties with hopes of expanding to Archuleta County. Since its inception in January 2010, it has directed much of its resources toward becoming a familiar referral source for schools, providers and agencies in the communities we serve.

Kim Johancen-Walt, a Second Wind Fund therapist said, “As a therapist who has worked with countless lives touched by suicide, I believe the Second Wind Fund is a powerful resource. It not only works to save the lives of the young people it serves, but it also works to limit the overwhelming amount of secondary trauma in our schools and communities impacted by suicide.”

At the same time, Second Wind Fund of Four Corners Colorado has served 26 local young people, providing up to 20 therapy sessions for each student. The board of SWFFCC has strengthened during this time and has successfully sustained the program through fundraising and grant efforts and has taken an active role in promoting SWFFCC within the community.

Second Wind Fund of Four Corners Colorado will be hosting an exciting event this May at the Durango Arts Center that will feature “Second Wind Chimes.” These wind chimes will be crafted by local artists and community members and will be displayed and auctioned as a fundraiser.

For more information, or if you would like to craft a “Second Wind Chime,” please call me at (970) 946-9586.

Leslie Smith is the director of Second Wind Fund of Four Corners Colorado. This was also signed by SWFFCC board members Lilliam Ramey, Kendra Gallegos-Reichle, Leigh Meigs, Liana Smith and Alain Henry.

Enlarge photo

Cliff Vancura/Durango Herald illustration