Middle-schoolers make a difference

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We’re beyond impressed with the three sixth-grade girls at Kalispell Middle School who developed an app — a computer application that can be downloaded to mobile devices — aimed at preventing suicide.

Spurred by concern over a friend who sent a Snapchat message saying he wanted to kill himself, this trio of 12-year-olds, Kelsea Bemis, Lillian Lewis and Elise Suda, went to work developing their “Stop Suicide” app that provides rise-assessment questionnaires, information on warning signs of suicide and directions to resources.

Their app won third-place at the Montana App Challenge recently held in Helena. All three girls are members of Kalispell Girls Who Code, a volunteer-led program that offers hands-on coding and computer-science experience to elementary and middle-school girls.

Sadly, suicide is a critical health problem for all age groups in Montana. This state’s overall suicide rate is consistently among the highest in the nation. The tenacity of these girls to look for a solution is laudable, and we’re thankful for this volunteer-led effort to give opportunities and mentoring to young girls who want to tap into coding and computer science. Finding a solution to curbing suicide will take all of us, regardless of age, working toward that goal.

Hats off to ‘top cop’

One of Kalispell’s top detectives was recently honored for her important and difficult work of investigating sex offenses and crimes against children.

Karen Webster was named Officer of the Year by the Montana Association of Chiefs of Police. She was nominated by Kalispell’s investigations captain, Doug Overman, who lauded Webster’s work with child victims.

“It’s very demanding work ... but Karen has a way with it that few do,” Overman said.

The challenging nature of Webster’s work investigating these often horrific crimes — which can include physical and emotional abuse, exploitation and sex trafficking — is certainly worthy of the accolades from her peers. We’re lucky to have officers like Webster in Kalispell who are advocating and fighting for our youth.

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