By Gordon Clay

Curry County is Number 1. Coos and Del Norte County aren’t far behind. We’re working to change that.

We need your help. The deadline for donations to place a 16-page, four color “Suicide Awareness and Prevention: Finding Hope” magazine (https://bit.ly/2yLtjyz) in newspapers that cover 47 percent of the households in Coos, Curry and Del Norte counties is June 28.

It will take 240 donors each giving $50 or more to make this happen. To date, 22 donors have stepped forward to “Break the Silence” around suicide: Advanced Health, AllCare Health, Alternative Youth Activities, Boys & Girls Club of SW Oregon, Chetco Activity Center, Coos County, Curry Health Network, Elk Valley Rancheria, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, OSU Extension, and 12 other individuals.

Suicide, in our rural coastal communities, is at record levels. But because of the stigma and intensely personal pain that a death from suicide can create, suicide is not often discussed in public. The data show just how widespread a problem this is.

Suicides in the U.S. went up 4.7 percent from 2016 to 2017. Oregon is the 26th largest state, yet our suicide rate is 14th highest in the nation (up 6.4 percent) and suicide is the second leading cause of death for our 10 to 34 year olds (up 8.4 percent).

One fifth of those who kill themselves are veterans. Research also indicates that almost half of all suicides happen within 10 minutes of a person’s first thought of taking their life. Most others have shown warning signs but because of the stigma about asking or talking about suicide, those signs get missed.

This is changing in many Oregon communities which are coming together to Break the Silence around this public health crisis.

The April 14 Oregonian reported “Something amazing happened last week in Oregon: in coffee shops, at the gym, driving carpools, meeting friends — just about everywhere people gather in Oregon, we have been talking about suicide and suicide prevention. Over 30 news organizations across the state teamed up to shine a light on the public health crisis of suicide. Dozens and dozens of news stories (https://bit.ly/2MbkQhl) have appeared on our favorite TV stations, in newspapers big and small, on pod casts and on the radio, each article and broadcast telling stories of hope and of healing and of overcoming the risk and pain of suicide.”

It is time to Break the Silence in our communities. Awareness about suicide and suicide prevention can afford every Oregonian the opportunity to save the future of a person who would otherwise be lost. It is our intention to make this happen by inserting the Finding Hope newspaper insert throughout Coos, Curry and Del Norte counties in early September.

It takes a village to prevent suicide attempts and here are some crucial ways how you can do your part to help raise awareness, reduce the stigma about talking about suicide, and actually learn how to recognize family, friends, and community members who might be at risk.

1. Reach out. At www.ZeroAttempts.org we have a lot of information to learn what risk factors and warning signs to look for and what to say and not say. Gain the knowledge and then take steps to help a friend or loved one who is struggling and may feel trapped in their own despair by asking these questions (https://bit.ly/2XeqdNE.)

2. Help get this publication into 22,000 Coos, Curry and Del Norte county households.

A $50 donation by June 28 will get your name on the back cover of the magazine. (https://bit.ly/2KXRcvh) Businesses, organizations, non-profits, clubs, tribes, faith based organizations and others can also get listed for a $50 donation to truly say that our coastal communities are banding together to reduce our high suicide ranking.

3. Reach out to others in your community by forwarding this email to all of your appropriate lists and use whatever works to announce this project through your social media.

4. If you have a way to distribute extra copies of the magazine in your lobby, at your counter, to clients, etc, you can order boxes of 375 copies for $125 each equaling 33 cents per copy (https://bit.ly/2PEOLMS)

5. If we get more donations than we need for the insert program, we’ll offer mini-grants up to $500 to 501(c)(3) for public activities around suicide prevention that will run during the month of September (https://bit.ly/2J6FKel.)

6. If you know of ways to place or post any of our support materials, they are available on the web. We have two public posters with Quick Response codes, one for inside windows that people can’t reach (https://bit.ly/2Y4ioud) and one with tear-off slips for bulletin boards that they can get to (https://bit.ly/2Wd71Q4.) A third flyer includes a donation form (https://bit.ly/2GNCySc) for businesses and organizations to make copies for their employees. There is a separate donation form without color at https://bit.ly/2KXRcvh

7. If you have a newsletter, blog, podcast or other social media format where you distribute articles, pass this along.

8. Share your own lived experience with suicide or the suicide o of someone that impacted you. We list 72 article ideas (https://bit.ly/2MbkQhl,) which ran during the week of April 7-14 to address the many facets of suicidality all using a common set of data (https://bit.ly/2WnoWqB) for idea starters.

The deadline for donations, applications for mini-grants and orders for extra copies of the magazine is June 28, 2019. Together we can Break the Silence and shine the light on suicide and suicide prevention to save lives, save our families, and save our communities. Learn more at https://bit.ly/2FD2Ndh.

Gordon Clay can be reached at zeroattempts@aol.com or www.ZeroAttempts.org

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