Suicide Prevention

Reducing the rates of suicide in our community has been identified as a priority by the Behavioral Health Action Team (BHAT). “The loss of life from suicide and the devastating and lasting effects of that loss on loved ones and friends is a tragedy that our community can and should work to prevent.” said Gerry McGloin, BHAT Co-Chair and Executive Director of Pathways, Inc., “In some segments of the population, especially, the rates are high and increasing. ”

Suicide is a serious public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families, and communities. While its causes are complex and determined by multiple factors, the goal of suicide prevention is simple: Reduce factors that increase risk and increase factors that promote resilience (i.e. protective factors). Ideally, prevention addresses all levels of influence: individual, relationship, community, and societal. Effective prevention strategies are needed to promote awareness of suicide and encourage a commitment to social change.

Healthy St. Mary’s 2020 Objectives

  • Decrease the suicide rate (per 100,000 population) from 12.4 to less than 11.8 as measured by Maryland DHMH Vital Statistics Administration.
  • Reduce the percentage of high school students that seriously considered attempting suicide during the past 12 months from 16.1 to less than 15.3 as measured by the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).
  • Reduce the percentage of high school students that made a plan about how they would attempt suicide during the past 12 months from 12.5 to less than 11.9 as measured by the YRBS.

Prevention Strategies

  • Increase Suicide Means Restriction Education (injury prevention education plus action to reduce means for suicide) for caregivers/family members of residents at risk of suicide (e.g., in crisis situations, ED post suicide attempt, crisis calls, through community-based outreach)
  • Increase public awareness of the risks, signs, and symptoms
  • Support anti-stigma campaigns
  • Increase coordination across organizations to promote easier access to mental health professionals for individuals at risk
  • Monitor trends in rates of emergency department patients with status post suicide attempt, reporting suicidal ideation
  • Support Anti-Bullying campaigns and programs in local schools
  • Develop a measurement tool for data collection to assess health disparities among youth who identify themselves as LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, or Questioning)
  • Develop a measurement tool for data collection to assess the relation between suicidal ideation/attempt with comorbid substance use/trauma/mental illness
  • Support Suicide Prevention Programming and training offered to students, staff, and administration in the local school system
  • Support the inclusion of the youth suicide hotline number on student identification cards in the local school system
  • Support the implementation of targeted outreach and support to high risk youth (e.g., identified substance use, previous attempt or ideation, etc.)
  • Develop and support the implementation of an organizational policy/protocol requiring a lethality assessment (or comparable suicide screening) on youth with identified substance use in the local school system

Resources

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the St. Mary’s County 24/7 Crisis Hotline at 301-863-6661 

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention Resource Center

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline

CDC: Suicide Prevention

A Counseling Guide to Youth Suicide Prevention