The Fulcrum Foundation has approved an additional grant of $20,000 to help fund the innovative Catholic Lifesaver Corps (CLC) in the Archdiocese of Seattle.
The program, which began with one cohort, trains high school students to become certified suicide prevention workshop facilitators for their peers in Catholic schools and parishes. Fulcrum disbursed an initial grant of $38,500 in 2022 to help the CLC expand the program.
“To date, the CLC has activated four Catholic high schools, with 16 student facilitators and 15 adult intervention specialists,” said Joe Cotton, director of pastoral care and outreach at the Archdiocese of Seattle.
“The National Institute of Mental Health lists suicide as the second-leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults in the United States. The CLC initiative rapidly increases heightened eyes and ears in school hallways, sports fields, churches, and campuses—meaning fellow young people are now tuned in to suicide prevention,” said Joe.
The CLC engages students and other community members, preparing them to recognize signs and signals of suicide ideation. The program teaches students how to have peer-to-peer conversations and how to get a student in need to a school counselor or other trained adult for further help.
The CLC has already trained around 200 people in local Catholic school communities. “We hope to continually grow the number of trained students, teachers, and parents, always increasing the number of people who are trained to detect the signs of suicidal thoughts and who are willing to ask about it and offer support or referrals,” said Joe.
Creators of the CLC believe the program will act as a model to other schools to improve suicide awareness. “The hope is to build out similar models that could be deployed in schools and organizations anywhere,” said Joe. “It’s already happening. A school in Australia created their own model that mirrors the CLC in Seattle. They have already graduated their first cohort of teen workshop facilitators. My office is also currently working with the Washington Department of Corrections to explore if a similar model could be deployed in prisons, where inmates become workshop facilitators for their peers in prison.”
Programs like the CLC show how Catholic schools make an enduring difference in the lives of their students and the larger world. “We wish to extend our deepest gratitude to the Fulcrum Foundation for making this initiative possible,” said Joe. “You are, quite literally, saving lives.”
If you are feeling alone and having thoughts of suicide—whether or not you are in crisis—or know someone who is, don’t remain silent. Talk to someone you can trust through the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Call or text 988 or chat the Lifeline.