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Teen suicide prevention: CAHS program at Dutchtown High

January 26, 2022

Pictured right (l-r): CAHS School Based Counselor Amelia Laurent- Julien, LPC, and School Based Program Supervisor Dina Rife, LCSW-BACS, provided information about teen suicide prevention at the Jan. 25 screening of the My Ascension documentary at the Malco Theatres – Gonzales Cinema.

Capital Area Human Services (CAHS) is piloting a suicide prevention program for students at Dutchtown High School, thanks to a grant from the Louisiana Department of Health, Office of Behavioral Health.

CAHS School Based Behavioral Health Program Director Bethany Sclafani, LCSW-BACS, says teen suicide is a serious national issue that stunned Dutchtown High when one of its cheerleaders, Emma Benoit, attempted suicide, but survived.

The suicide attempt in 2017, when Benoit was 16 years old, left Benoit paralyzed. Today, she tells her story in a 90-minute documentary, My Ascension, being shown throughout Ascension Parish and nationally. The next screening will be at Donaldsonville High School on Feb. 16.

School Based Program Supervisor Dina Rife, LCSW-BACS, (pictured right with Benoit) was instrumental in creating the new suicide prevention program at Dutchtown. Rife says the grant funded the hiring of Amelia Laurent-Julien, LPC, who is providing clinical services as well as trainings for school faculty, staff, and students who will help prevent suicide among their peers. In addition to her training as a licensed counselor, Laurent-Julien has participated in the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST).

On Jan. 25, as part of their work, Laurent-Julien and other clinicians from the CAHS School Based Behavioral Health Program attended a screening of the My Ascension documentary and provided information to attendees about the seriousness of teen suicide. The documentary screenings are sponsored by Ascension Parish Schools and the Ascension Parish Government.

The School Based Behavioral Health Program serves schools in CAHS’ seven-parish region. CAHS school based therapists provide counseling services at the schools to help students with behavioral health issues so they can avoid problems at school and home.