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About Us

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Zero Suicides Elko County mission, Saving Lives & Enriching Communities through Education, Collaboration and Suicide Prevention. 

The Birth of Zero Suicides Elko County

Sadly, Lynette Vega has been groomed for suicide prevention and mental health, since January 18, 2008, when her daughter Rachelle Marie Sloan took her own life. Vega’s daughter was a Senior Airman.  Sloan had been in the Air Force for five years.  In 2006 she was Airman of the Year. In 2007 Sloan did a tour to Iraq.  She was scheduled to go to Japan in February 2008.  At the time of her death, she was serving in Charleston, SC as a Dental Assistant - 437th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, 437th Medical Group and 437th Airlift Wing. 

September of 2008 Lynette was talking with her 6th grade students about ‘Rachel’s Challenge,’ the young lady who died in the Columbine Shooting, April 20, 1999. One of Lynette’s students asked if Rachel died by suicide. Vega simply stated that she did not die by suicide, but Rachel helped a student not die by suicide.

The next day at school Lynette was called into the principal's office for using the word suicide in her classroom.  The principal said a parent called to inquire why the word suicide was mentioned. Lynette proceeded to tell her principal why, and he stated he had to ask and knew it wasn’t serious.  As Lynette was walking back to her classroom, that was the day she vowed to advocate for students' mental health, because teachers who had ‘Breast Cancer Awareness’ magnets on their doors were not being called into the office.  Sixth grade boys wearing ‘I love BOOBIES’ bracelets were not being called to the office.  Lynette decided to take all the training that she could to put stickers on her door that said, ‘SafeTALK’ and ‘ASSIST’ trained in suicide prevention and awareness. She told her students they could talk with her if they needed someone to talk to, this started her advocacy. 

Starting in 2010 Lynette, Jan Basier and Stormy Remington presented at local school assemblies, classrooms, churches, Tamock Indian Reservation, and the Indian Colony. They also had a variety of community presentations at Great Basin Community College. Since then Lynette has pushed to have training for school staff to know the signs of suicide and what to say to someone that is talking about wanting to die by suicide. With the help of Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention it was possible to bring SafeTALK and ASSIST training to the school district.

In 2016 Lynette took the Crisis Intervention Training with the Elko Police Department and the Elko Sheriff.  This is when she noticed there was not a connection with behavioral health resources within Elko County. She started a group that was interested in suicide prevention and mental health which included many stakeholders. 

In May 2018 the group decided on the name, Elko County Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Coalition.  They would meet once a month at the Elko County School District Office. On January 16, 2019 the name changed to Zero Suicides Elko County.  They continue to meet at a new location, Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital to discuss how to meet the mental health needs of Elko County residents. When COVID hit the meetings continued on Zoom.  On September 24, 2020 is when they officially became a nonprofit.  They continue to work on improving the behavioral wellness needs for Elko County residents. 

Meet Our Staff

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Lynette Vega, President

As an educator since 1999 Lynette has seen the need to advocate for mental health and suicide prevention awareness for our youth. Sadly, Lynette became invested in advocacy when her daughter Rachelle Marie Sloan died by suicide at the age of 23, in 2008.

 

It has been a journey for Lynette for she is a Survivor of Suicide Loss and has lived experience with mental health.

 

In 2010 Lynette started doing presentations/classes for students in Elko County. Lynette felt the awareness needed to go beyond the school district and into the community, so she held community events.

February 2017 she started Zero Suicides Elko County with stakeholders that want to see our community mentally strong and healthy. She lives by the mantra, “Everyday is a new day.”

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Toni & Scott Rakestraw

Toni and Scott Rakestraw have been married since 2007.  They started this journey when their 26 year old son Christopher (Topher) Rakestraw died by Suicide January 5th 2019.

 

Toni had also lost her grandfather to Suicide September 29, 2000. She saw the differences each experience had on her family and the stigma that surrounded suicide when her grandfather died compared to when her son died. Scott, a US Army Veteran, hopes to help other veterans get the help they need and deserve. Together they realized how much rural Nevada needed voices to share their experiences, stories and help spread awareness about suicide.

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Wendy Charlebois, Community Liaison

With a background in health care and then as social worker and educator for over 30 years, now retired, I have worked with people who have threatened suicide, died by suicide, and whose family members have died by suicide.

 

It wasn’t until September, 2018, when my thirty three year old son took his own life, that I fully realized the tragedy of suicide. I will never be the same. I don’t want any more parents, spouses, brothers, or sisters to experience the heartache and pain that I, and so many others have endured.

 

That is why I volunteer for Zero Suicides Elko County.

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Stormy Remington, Survivors of Suicide Loss of Northeastern Nevada Facilitator & Zero Suicides of Elko County Treasurer.

After the loss of her brother Tib Ottley in 2010, Stormy had so many unanswered questions and needed help with understanding why?

 

She found a local support group that met once a month, SOSL. At that point Stormy decided she did not want anyone else to feel the hurt and loss that she and her family has gone through, so she decided to join in the efforts with SOSL and then Zero Suicides of Elko County to advocate for her community by setting up different events, which included, walks and presentations at schools on suicide prevention.

Stormy feels it is critical that school staff is educated in suicide awareness and programs for our youth. 

 

She wants people to know that they are never alone and they always have an outlet if they need to talk 24/7, which is the Suicide Prevention Hotline number, 1-800-273-TALK(8255), while trying to heighten more involvement in our community by educating people on how suicide and mental health go hand in hand.

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Carol Farrell, Secretary

After the death of her only child, Bryan to suicide.  Carol felt compelled to get involved to help make a difference to those who are struggling with their loss and to help educate the public on suicide awareness.  The importance of educating people and the community on suicide as an illness and not a selfish act is the most important aspect she finds to her volunteer work with Zero Suicides Elko County.

Being a survivor of suicide loss is a journey that is a complicated one and Carol became certified as a Grief Educator through world renowned grief expert David Kessler to help with her own journey and also help others navigate their grief. She also became a certified Grief Movement Guide to help guide others in their grief and to move through it to find emotional liberation.

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