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Suicide prevention in Washington County

There+is+a+glitch+on+2000-2004+due+to+a+change+to+the+way+suicide+death+was+recorded+at+the+state+level.+Graphic+courtesy+of+Stella+Shoff.
There is a glitch on 2000-2004 due to a change to the way suicide death was recorded at the state level. Graphic courtesy of Stella Shoff.

There is a glitch on 2000-2004 due to a change to the way suicide death was recorded at the state level. Graphic courtesy of Stella Shoff.

There is a glitch on 2000-2004 due to a change to the way suicide death was recorded at the state level. Graphic courtesy of Stella Shoff.

Emilee Shoff-Olson

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About 30,000 Americans take their lives every year. Every 16.2 minutes a person makes an attempt to end their life; every attempt leaves at least 6 people to make sense of it. Depression that is undiagnosed, untreated or ineffectively treated is the number one cause of suicide. It is time to take action.

One in 5 Americans is affected by a mental illness. Mental illness strikes young and often is undiagnosed and untreated. It can often be disregarded as behavioral issues. There is hope; mental illnesses can now be diagnosed as reliably as the most common disorders. There are hotlines and resources for people to reach out and ask for help. People can and do regain their mental health, but not with medication alone. With the right treatment and support, recovery is possible. It is important to ask for help from a trusted adult or friend.

The stigma behind mental illnesses is usually that they can be swept under the rug. That only worsens the problem. The Suicide Prevention coalition of Washington County is working to raise awareness and offer hope. In Washington County the suicide rate is one and a half times the national average. M’liss Jenkins, the coordinator of the program, and Stella Shoff, the coalition chair, work to bring Washington County’s numbers to zero as a part of the Turning point/Washington County Wellness Initiative.

“We offer support groups, question, persuade, and refer (QPR) training, survivor services and other mental health resources to Washington County,” Shoff said. “I joined this coalition because my son was struggling and I lost him to suicide. I want to make sure others can get the lifesaving help that they need.”

The founders of the coalition recognized that suicide was a growing problem and action needed to be taken.

“We discovered that suicide was the leading cause of death for young adults 25 to 34, and we researched across the country to determine what the best ways to prevent suicide,” Jenkins said. “We decided to develop the coalition as well as raising awareness about the problem, providing screenings and training from mental health care providers on how to do thorough risk assessments increasing access to treatment and developing support for individuals who have lost a loved one.”

Although Washington County previously had limited resources, that did not stop the rising rates of suicide.

“Grand Lake Mental Health center has a crisis line, Youth and Family Services does suicide risk assessment, and the coalition offers QPR training at no cost, and we have suicide loss group that meets once a month,” Jenkins said. “The coalition meets one time a month.”

QPR training teaches people to be able to recognize the signs, persuade them to get help and refer them to the appropriate resources. QPR training information can be found on the coalition’s website.

Help is out there. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline-24/7, confidential & free, for those who are at risk and those who love them. 800-273-TALK (8255)

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Suicide prevention in Washington County