Stan Collins – Life devoted to suicide prevention
By Emily Sorensen
Stan Collins never planned that he would end up devoting his life to suicide prevention. “I wanted to teach history and coach water polo at Poway High School,” said Collins. Instead, a tragic loss lead to a drastic change in direction.
Collins, who grew up in Poway and graduated from Poway High School in 1999, was inspired by the suicide of a friend in their freshman year of high school to learn about suicide prevention. He was introduced to the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention program by his father, who works in law enforcement. “He introduced me to [Yellow Ribbon] to see if kids would approve of it,” said Collins. Instead of just watching, Collins ended up sitting on the panel as a “survivor of suicide,” after a panel member was unable to make the presentation. “It gave a lot of legitimacy in the role that a youth can play,” said Collins of his participation.
Collins was so moved by the Yellow Ribbon program that, in his junior year of high school, he fought to bring it to Poway High. “I gave it to the principal [Jerry Leininger], and I bugged him about it until he agreed.” Already a member of Link Crew and Peer Counseling at Poway High, giving presentations for the Yellow Ribbon program at school came naturally to Collins. “I just jumped in with both feet,” said Collins.
After graduating, Collins studied social science at San Diego State University while interning with the Yellow Ribbon program. Collins spent nearly 11 years working with the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention program both locally and nationally, giving presentations and suicide prevention training to emergency services, law enforcement and high schools. Collins estimates that he has spoken to a quarter of a million people about suicide prevention since he began. In 2001, Collins testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee about suicide with the national chapter of the Yellow Ribbon program in Colorado.
Collins said that the presentations and training he gives isn’t about counseling or therapy, but more like CPR. “I want to make people more comfortable with the topic of suicide,” said Collins. “It’s OK to talk about suicide. You will not make it happen by talking about it. You need to talk about it.”
Collins is currently working as a suicide prevention consultant for a few different organizations, giving presentations and working on social media campaigns.
“People don’t understand that everyone should have this information,” said Collins. “But a lot of people don’t pay attention. They say, ‘this will never happen to my kid, or my friend.’
“I never would have picked it for my life career, but I find it very hard to believe that I could ever walk away from it,” said Collins. “We have a lot of work to do.”
To find out more about suicide prevention and how to become involved, contact the San Diego County Access and Crisis Line at 888-724-7240, or visit www.up2sd.org.
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