C.A.R.E to save a life?

e Joplin Ozark Center and the Equality Alliance of Missouri Southern came to together to host a Trevor Project Connect, Accept, Respond, Empower (C.A.R.E) workshop.  The workshop was held in the Billingsly Student Center Ballroom from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

The Trevor Project is a nationwide, non-profit organization devoted to raising awareness of stressors that youth and young adults in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) community come into contact with that may put them at a higher risk for suicide.

Through education, such as C.A.R.E. workshops, and a number of outreach services, the Trevor Project works to give people the tools they need to recognize warning signs and seek help for themselves or someone they know.

In fact, according to the Trevor Project website, www.thetrevorproject.org,  “LGB youth are four times more likely, and questioning youth are three times more likely, to attempt suicide as their straight peers.”

Beth Shroeder, the Trevor Project’s Regional Coordinator for Western Missouri based in Lee’s Summit, conducted Saturday’s workshop.

 She spoke on issues including risk factors for suicide in the LGBTQ youth and young adult community, warning signs of suicide, ways to support and help a LGBTQ youth or young adult who is struggling, and ways to create safer schools.

Debbie Fitzgerald, project manager and crisis coordinator of Joplin’s Ozark Center, organized the C.A.R.E. workshop with the help of the Equality Alliance and said that it was a success.

“I was pleased that it had such a large turnout, and hosting it at the college, people seemed to like it,” said Fitzgerald.  “I’m really glad that people came and learned to recognize the warning signs of suicide in the LGBTQ community.”

President of the Equality Alliance Caleb Hatz expressed similar feelings.  

“The people I have talked to really enjoyed it,” he said.  “They thought it was a great afternoon.

“We had a great speaker, and overall, I feel it was a very good thing because we were only expecting 50 people but over 150 came, and there were a lot of positive remarks afterwards.”

Both Fitzgerald and Hatz think that educational programs like the Trevor Project C.A.R.E. workshop are important to this part of the country.

“Jasper County has ranked in the top 10 counties for death rate by suicide in the past decade,” said Fitzgerald.  

She also said that Missouri has the 16th highest number of callers to the Trevor hotline.  

Hatz said that the Equality Alliance, which operates as a social support group at Southern, has discussed the position of the LGBTQ community in Joplin.   

“This came up a lot in discussion in the group [the Equality Alliance], being in the bible belt I think kids feel more alone here,” he said.  “To have a national campaign to come here, it was huge.”

It probably won’t be the last time.

“Stay tuned because we will probably offer another Trevor Project educational conference or workshop after May,” said Fitzgerald.  “Beth had expressed an interest in returning for another educational opportunity in the Joplin area.”

Southern students interested in being a part of the Equality Alliance can attend meetings on Mondays at 5:30 in room 267 in the Health Science building.  More information on the Equality Alliance can be found on the organization’s Facebook page.

Ozark Center

Crisis Hotlines



The Trevor Lifeline