OSHKOSH - A Winnebago County study claimed 13 percent of teenagers attempted suicide sometime in the past year, nearly twice the national average.
So now the Oshkosh School District is taking a new step to reduce that number.
In about two months, the Oshkosh School District will start screening ninth graders to see if they are at risk to attempt suicide.
"Peer pressures are especially intense at that age level," explained Director of Pupil Services Bob Geigle.
Geigle told FOX 11 the screening is part of the new TeenScreen Schools and Communities Program.
Only those students who want to be tested will be.
"Totally voluntary. Student and parents would have to agree to do it," Geigle explained.
Sarah Bassing-Sutton is the program manager. She told us TeenScreen started at Columbia University in 1991.
Volunteers will take a ten minute computer test which screens for mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Then a certified clinician will go over the results with the student to make sure the computer's findings are accurate.
"Completely confidential. It's shared with mom and dad. It's confidential from the schools," Bassing-Sutton explained.
According to Bassing-Sutton, if a student is considered to be at risk, a case worker will then talk with the parents about possible next steps.
"Help them get connected to resources in the community to get them help. TeenScreen doesn't do any diagnosing or recommending a particular type of treatment," said Bassing-Sutton.
It's then up to the parents to decide if they want to seek treatment.
Wednesday, the Oshkosh School Board unanimously agreed to put $37,000 aside in the 2013-14 budget to start the program.
"We think that even if we save one life it's well worth the effort," said Geigle.
Teen-Screen is not new to the area. Appleton, Fond du Lac and Kaukauna, for example, already use it.
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