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Chandler Unified increases funding for services to help students having suicidal thoughts

At the beginning of the 2023-24 school year, the Chandler Unified School District partnered with The Hope Institute (THI), which specializes in helping people who are having suicidal thoughts. The district initially approved $300,000 in estimated expenses to offer THI services to students.

The governing board approved an additional $175,000 at its meeting Wednesday. 

The extra money will cover costs for students on AHCCCS. The institute has contracts with several other insurance agencies but is waiting for the state to come through for its part.

Before Wednesday night’s vote, board member Patti Serrano highlighted the importance of the service that gets students seen within 48 hours.

“Previously, people who had acute symptoms had to wait days, weeks at times to get services outside," Serrano said. "So whereas we are not a primary source. We are able to accommodate people who need acute care in the immediate.”

After a suicidal student is stabilized, the institute can refer them to other providers for long-term counseling.

Superintendent Frank Narducci said the partnership is one piece of a larger effort at the district.

“It was a big move that we made to assist with mental health besides the additional programmings we brought into all of our schools as well as increasing our social workers and counselors," Narducci said.

Around this time last year, the district lost three students to suicide in 11 days.

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, there is help. Contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988 (en Español, llame al 988, prensa 2; for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, dial 711 then 988). You may also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Senior field correspondent Bridget Dowd has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.