Dear Editor: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that suicide was the leading cause of death for 15- to 54-year-old Oregonians in 2017. Suicide was the eighth-leading cause for all ages, and an Oregonian dies by suicide every 11 hours.
Furthermore, more people in the U.S. died by suicide than in any previous year, including more Oregonians, more Oregon youth 15-24, and more people in Curry County. This situation is particularly concerning in rural Oregon, where there aren’t adequate behavioral health professionals.
I’m a suicide prevention advocate from Brookings who runs an organization with the goal of achieving “Zero Attempts.” We can wait around for the powers to be to find the funding to make the necessary changes, or we can step up as individual citizens to do something about it.
There are many little things individuals could do, including learning risk factors and warning signs; taking a one-hour online QPR course; asking “R U OK?” when checking in with a friend by phone or text to see how they’re doing; inviting a friend to meet for coffee or meal together; or sending a handwritten card to let someone know you’re thinking of them.
I saw a 16-page, four-color newspaper insert called “Suicide Awareness and Prevention: Finding Hope” that the Grants Pass Daily Courier wrote, designed, produced and ran in newspapers in Jackson and Josephine counties last September during Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month. I worked with publisher Travis Moore to make it more pertinent for Coos, Curry and Del Norte counties.
I also wanted to open up the donor base to include small businesses, organizations and, most importantly, individual citizens to show that the entire village needs to get involved, not just major stakeholders.
While major funding still came from Advanced Health and AllCare Health, 87 other businesses and organizations stepped up, including 41 individuals.
I’m very pleased with the community support we received and am looking forward to the magazine’s appearance Sept 7 in The Pilot. I hope people will read it, learn the warning signs, and what to do and not do.
We have “R U O K?” counter displays in 59 locations in Brookings. Stop in, thank the proprietor and pick up a few cards. When you see a friend exhibiting a warning sign, you can hand them a card and let them know you’re available to listen.
We all have a role to play in suicide prevention. Commit to break the silence by talking about your lived experience, freely. Let’s work together as a village to save lives.