Workshop on suicide to help adults talk to youth

by Jim Boyle


The Elk River Area School District is co-sponsoring a suicide prevention workshop 6:30-8:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 20, in the Rogers High School media center.  The workshop is free and open to the public.

Deb Link, owner of co-sponsor Link Therapy and Mediation in Rogers, and Jen Holper, Community Relations representative with co-sponsor PrairieCare, will present the workshop.

Link, a marriage and family therapist, has been personally touched by suicide. She works with individuals, families, couples and groups to address issues in thoughts, feelings, behaviors and relationships.

Holper, who also experienced the suicide of a loved one, enjoys connecting people to resources for improved access to mental health care.

Participants will learn suicide risk factors for youth, as well as strategies to intervene when one is concerned about the safety of a young person.

For additional information, call ISD 728 Prevention Specialist Judy Johnson at 763-241-3400, ext. 5003.

More about speakers Holper and Link

Holper and Link have been talking since 2011 about how to help parents feel more comfortable in talking to their kids about mental health, and suicide in particular.

“Thanks to the partnership with the Elk River Area School District we now have a venue in which to do this.

The program on March 20 will be devoted to sharing information about the prevalence of mental health issues, suicide, warning signs and action steps that parents can take to help their children/adolescents get help when it is needed.

The objective for the evening is for parents to think about their own perception of mental illness and suicide and what do they need to do to be able to be able to provide support to their children in times of need.

“This could mean in dealing with their own child’s mental health, or it could mean being a support to their child who has a friend struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts,” Holper said.  “This event will provide parents with the tools they need for their adolescents to feel comfortable talking to them about depression and suicidal thoughts, just like they would for a stomach ache or sore throat.”

Holper has been a part of the PrairieCare team since 2007, starting as a social worker in the Child/Adolescent Partial Hospitalization Program in Edina. She came to PrairieCare with more than eight years of in-home case management experience, helping families and children with mental health issues navigate and access support systems including school resources, county social services and community-based programs to enhance their quality of life.

Front line and clinical experience come in handy in connecting with the community in her current role of community relations representative. Holper is a board member of the Robbinsdale Redesign Family Service Collaborative, and she’s involved with the Washington County Children’s Mental Health Partnership. Holper co-facilitates OASIS with the Osseo School District – a parenting education workshop and support group for families dealing with mental health issues.

She is passionate about alleviating stigma and seeking ways to improve systems so that families can access the care they need.

Holper, as asurvivor of the suicide of a loved one,brings her experience to reduce stigma and empower people to seek the support they need. In her spare time she enjoys hiking with her husband and son, reading and yoga.

Link is the owner of Link Therapy and Mediation in Rogers. She became a marriage therapist because of her conviction that life was meant to have purpose and meaning. She has been personally touched by suicide and understands that there are many for whom life doesn’t always feel worth living. She works with individuals, families, couples and DBT groups to address issues in thoughts, feelings, behaviors and relationships. A licensed marriage and family therapist and licensed professional clinical counselor, Link received her master’s in counseling psychology at Bethel University in 2007 and completed additional training at the Adler Graduate School in marriage and family therapy.

As an in-home family therapist, Link began her career working with children and adolescents in the context of their family system. She has experience working in an outpatient mental health clinic as the group therapy program coordinator as well as an outpatient therapist specializing in DBT and treating survivors of sexual abuse. Her other interests include suicide prevention, parenting skills training, grief therapy, marriage therapy, families impacted by divorce and spiritual searching within the therapeutic context. She is also a qualified neutral under Minnesota Rule 114, which enables her to act as a mediator in family law cases.