SPAN Idaho - Suicide Prevention Action Network Of Idaho
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Leadership for Suicide Prevention in Idaho


SPAN Idaho was the first state affiliate of the National Suicide Prevention Action Network (SPAN USA). SPAN USA was a suicide prevention organization founded in 1996, whose goal is was coordinating and building political will to develop and implement national suicide prevention programs. SPAN USA made great gains in these areas for 13 years.  In 2009, SPAN USA merged with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. A group of interested Idaho citizens organized and established an Idaho chapter of SPAN USA in June 2002. These founders of SPAN Idaho were Dr. Peter Wollheim, Dr. John Hanks and Dr. Cindy Clark. SPAN Idaho was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in July 2002. 

SPAN Idaho’s mission is to reduce suicide in Idaho through statewide advocacy, collaboration and education in best practices. Our major objective has been the development and implementation of a Suicide Prevention Plan for Idaho including providing leadership and infrastructure for suicide prevention in our state. SPAN Idaho provided the impetus for the development of the first State Plan and for the creation of the governor-appointed Idaho Council on Suicide Prevention (ICSP).  SPAN has also created statewide regional chapters to carry out prevention efforts at the local level, and has conducted annual training conferences for 11 years.

Idaho has consistently been among the top ten states with the highest suicide rates in the nation. Suicide is a complex and difficult problem and solutions developed in other parts of the country may not address Idaho's needs. We continue working with the citizens and communities across the state to develop and implement strategies to reduce suicide and suicidal behavior. 

A Brief History Of SPAN Idaho

In 2002, a small group of professionals working with the Adolescent Suicide Task Force and Idaho Suicide Prevention Services, wishing to establish a formal organization, decided to affiliate with the national network. An official board was formed, bylaws and articles of incorporation written and SPAN Idaho was born. In 2003, SPAN Idaho established partnerships and assisted in developing funding options for the development of the first Idaho Suicide Prevention Plan which was formally released at the November 2003 SPAN conference. 2003 also saw the development of the first SPAN Idaho regional chapter in Lewiston. Three other regional chapters were formed between 2004 and 2006. By 2009, chapters were established in all seven Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) regions of the state.

SPAN Idaho hired its first staff members in 2004 to begin implementation of the plan and held its fourth annual suicide prevention conference in Boise. In 2005, SPAN Idaho continued implementation of the state plan and held its fifth annual conference. In 2006, SPAN Idaho produced and distributed the SPAN Idaho Suicide Prevention Tool Kit and played a major role in the establishment and support of the governor-appointed Idaho Council on Suicide Prevention. SPAN Idaho also held its sixth annual statewide suicide prevention conference. In 2007, SPAN Idaho conducted statewide prevention and post-vention trainings for clergy in eight locations around the state. The SPAN Idaho regional chapters held suicide prevention conferences in Twin Falls, Lewiston and Idaho Falls in 2007. In 2008, the annual statewide suicide prevention conference was held at the College of Idaho in Caldwell. A more detailed history is available here.

In 2009, SPAN Idaho conferences were held in Twin Falls and Idaho Falls. Also that year, SPAN brought together a small group of key stakeholders to address the issue of suicide postvention in schools.  The group included representatives from SPAN Idaho, the Idaho State Department of Education (SDE) and Idaho’s Garrett Lee Smith Grantee, Idaho State University. This group became the Schools and Suicide Technical Working Group (SSTWG) which began reviewing evidence-informed, school-based, postvention protocols from around the U.S. to develop guidelines for Idaho. With guidance and assistance from the SSTWG, SPAN Idaho developed and distributed suicide postvention, intervention and prevention guidelines to every middle and high school in Idaho in 2010.  With the support of SDE and IDHW that year, SPAN Idaho conducted seven statewide roundtable meetings among local school, law enforcement and IDHW personnel.  The 10th annual SPAN conference was held in Boise in September of 2010, featuring Dr. Thomas Joiner and Ellis Amdur.  In 2011, SPAN recruited and trained Regional School Suicide Postvention Teams (RSSP Teams) with SSTWG support, and conferences were held in Twin Fall and Idaho Falls. Click here for a complete list of recent SPAN Idaho accomplishments.

SPAN Idaho Board of Directors

John Hathaway – Co-President
Health and Welfare Regional Director

Lynn Opdycke, MSW – Co-President
Twin Falls
Social Worker, Counselor

Adam Stevenson - Treasurer
Idaho Falls
Retail Manager

Catherine Perusse – Secretary
SPAN Chapter Interim Chairperson

Dean Allen, MEd

Roma Hawkins, MSW
Idaho Falls
Social Worker

Mary Kelly

Kirby Orme, MD – Immediate Past President

Mary Pierce
Suicide Prevention Coordinator, Veterans Affairs

Brenda Stanley
Public Relations, Administrator

Peter Wollheim

Monte Wollstenhulme, Ed.S
School District Superintendent

Sarah Woodley
President, Business Psychology Associates

SPAN Idaho functions
on fundraising and
donations only.
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