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Parents learn how to talk about mental health with kids at Stapleton event

A workshop on the issue was already scheduled for Wednesday night, before an FBI manhunt for an 18-year old made the topic more timely.

It was a scheduling coincidence.

When a group of experts at CU Helen and Arthur E Johnson Depression Center scheduled a workshop about youth suicide and mental health for Wednesday night, they didn’t expect the topic to be so timely.

One day earlier, an 18 year old woman from Florida prompted an FBI manhunt after authorities said she made credible school threats. That resulted in school closures across the Denver Metro, before authorities found her dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Though the workshop was scheduled before the events this week, the experts who led it said parents are always curious how they can help their kids through these types of situations.

“A lot of the questions we get are, ‘How do I talk to my kids?’,” said Scott Cypers the Director of Anxiety Programs at the Depression Center.

“You teach kids math, you teach kids English, what do you do with mental health” You’ve got to teach mental health,” he said.

“So [this workshop is] helping arm parents and give them tools on how to better facilitate conversations around mental health with their kids.”

The workshop covered topics like youth suicide, coping skills, and resiliency through life transitions.

“Even with the events that happened today in Colorado and yesterday, those are just things that we didn’t deal with growing up, so we don’t even know how to navigate that,” said Jen Barrett, who has two teenaged sons. “So it is just figuring out, just day by day, what they’re going through and how we can help.”

RELATED: Tips on how to talk to your kids about threats and violence

Barrett said her family works on communication skills already, but with two teenagers, she wanted to learn even more from the experts.

“They’re kind of tough ages, so it’s good stuff to know… warning signs and things to be able to talk to your kids about that might be uncomfortable, and so I thought, I can always use whatever tips people have.”

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