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Suicide Prevention Action Network of Idaho announces it’s closing

Idaho Falls

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IDAHO FALLS — After more than 16 years in operation, the Suicide Prevention Action Network of Idaho (SPAN Idaho) will cease operation in March 2019.

The announcement came in an email to local SPAN chapters around the state Thursday morning.

“The biggest driver in the closing is that we’re no longer able to financially continue,” SPAN Idaho Executive Director Jeni Griffin said. “It’s difficult to fund our organization through donations, grants and fundraisers because we’ve never wanted to compete with our chapters across the state.”

Griffin said there are nine local chapters throughout the state, and all of them fundraise on their own, which makes it difficult for the parent organization to gather from big donors who would prefer their dollars remain local.

The parent organization’s primary role in the state has been to carry the insurance and liability for the chapters, as well as provide accounting and tax services. SPAN Idaho also met with state stakeholders on new policies, and was active in disseminating information about new state and national suicide prevention programs or initiatives to chapters.

Now all those responsibilities will be placed on the individual chapters themselves. Griffin says she hopes the local chapters of SPAN continue on their own after March.

“We’re hoping that the stability and backbone we’ve been for them over the last nearly 17 years can continue on with their own momentum,” she said. “Each chapter is going to have its own identity now. We’re not sure what that’s going to look like because the news just went out today, but we’re going to work with them until March to get things situated.”

The only person to lose their job is Griffin, who is the organization’s sole full-time employee.

Monte Woolstenhulme, president of the SPAN Idaho Board and superintendent of Teton School District 401, says she’ll be missed.

“She’s been an exceptional advocate and leader for suicide prevention across the state,” Woolstenhulme said. “Eastern Idaho has been fortunate, because that’s where she lives and focused a lot of her attention. But she is highly regarded across the state for her work in suicide prevention. I’m grateful for the leadership she’s provided for many years for SPAN and communities in Idaho.”

Idaho residents shouldn’t notice a change in suicide prevention services, Griffin said. The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline — (208)398-HELP — is operated through another organization and will not be impacted — nor will any of the support groups that have been set up across the state.

“Everything will still be available through Idaho Health and Welfare and the public health districts,” Griffin said. “We’re kind of the grandma of suicide prevention in Idaho, and we’ve done what we can, and now its time for us to step back.”

SPAN Idaho was the first organization to implement suicide prevention efforts across the state, they helped secure the lifeline, and assisted in drafting some of the first suicide legislation in Idaho.

“We really were the pioneers for Idaho, she said.

Click here for information about SPAN chapters in Idaho.