More than 300 community members joined in March to listen to panelist speak messages of hope and healing. Community Partners Suicide Prevention group heard the community say they needed to be connected to local resources and have a place to speak about their fears and concerns about suicide and suicide prevention.
The group selected a series of panelist ranging from mental health proffesionals to school teachers and a police officer, to talk about local resources and help any one in the community who was hurting.
“We truly enjoy working with all of our community partners and stakeholders. I think the community event was a wonderful opportunity for the community to see how we partner to support our students,” said Melisa Dobish, Kearney Public Schools.
“Messages of hope and healing surrounded every person in attendance. Our team prepared for several scenarios in this meeting. We wanted every person who attended to be able to connect with one resource that could help them or a loved one heal and provide hope,” Behavioral Health Coordinator Tana Miller said.

Panelist at the Hope and Healing event, left to right: Jill Schubauer, BAE, Youth Systems of Care Specialist, Region 3 Behavioral Health Services; Melisa Dobish, Special Education Director, Kearney Public Schools; Jason Koetters, police officer, City of Kearney; Jesica Vickers, clinical director, Center for Psychological Services & Facilitator Buffalo County Community Partners HealthyMINDS Collaborative; Jason Sharp, faith community and advocate for teens; Krista Fritson, Psy. D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Clinical Director, LOSS Team of Central NE; Renae Zimmer, co-founder, LOSS (Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors) of Central NE.

A total of 51 questions were collected during the forum, and 16 more questions were submitted online before the event. Panelists focused on answering the questions provided by the community members. The panel also addressed common myths about suicide and touched on the agencies equipped to provide mental health services, including the Kearney Police Department, Richard Young Hospital, Region 3 Behavioral Services, churches and Kearney schools.
Jason Sharp, a faith community advocate, provided a suicide text hotline number: 741-741.
“This number should be programmed into every teen’s phone,” he said, because texting is the biggest mode of communication for teens.”
The panelist encouraged parents to have a conversation with their child about who they have to talk to if they are struggling. “Parenting is the hardest job in the world, and we have to help our kids know how to ask for help,” Sharp said.
Krista Fritson, licensed clinical psychologist, talked about being mindful of other people in the community that are struggling. She said we need to use safe messaging practices because the community needs to support each other while they are healing.

“You want to see a change in Kearney — it begins with you. Showing up tonight means you care, you are invested in the community. Be the change. Be Kind. Talk to one person about what you learned here tonight. Get involved in one of our community events,” said Fritson.
Community Partners Executive Director Denise Zwiener said staff and community members invested hundreds of hours into preparing for the event. “From the time of the first meeting in January to this evening, 500 hours have been invested into this event to provide the message of hope and healing,” she said.
To find a recording of the event and more resources see

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