We (again that “royal we”) really have some things moving forward with our Suicide Prevention Task Force. We are starting a project, partnering with a local agency to bring faculty training to local high schools and middle schools to assist them with suicide prevention efforts. The training will target faculty to help them in recognizing “at risk” (of depression and suicide) students along with “how to” refer and encourage them to get help. The second “target” is school counseling staff to ensure they have the “tools’ to handle those referrals and do appropriate evaluations and referrals as needed. This program will also ensure “institutionalization” of the training, so that the schools can continue training new faculty, retrain current faculty, and that the program once started will continue on into the future.
Our second big project is a program to encourage suicide survivors (i.e. family and friends of those that die of suicide) to get help and support for themselves earlier after their loss than the 4 year national average. We are as yet uncertain how this will look finally, but we are looking at several models around the country and seeing how we might borrow the best of each and bring it here to Lake County. There are not many “first responder”, “early intervention/support” models out there, but we are confident we can get something effective working here “soon”.
Both of these efforts are exciting and I look forward to their development. As well we are continuing to bring together referral sources and find gaps in services that need to be addressed. The other “pieces” include working on other education programs (students, community) to expand knowledge about suicide and what to do when confronted by it to help prevent it, and working to decrease the stigma associated with it.
Off to the "Illinois Death Reporting Task Force" meeting tomorrow. Long drive, but certainly pertaining to our Coroner work, and I have been invited to participate.