Photo from the 2016  Bold Moves Against Suicide  Summit in Louisville, KY.

Photo from the 2016 Bold Moves Against Suicide Summit in Louisville, KY.

We as a society have a difficult time dealing with the subject of death. When someone takes their own life, that conversation proves even more difficult. No other situation can elicit such immense grief and remorse as the subject of suicide. Losing a loved one to suicide forever changes a family. For those left behind there is the litany of, if only I had… I should have… I could have… etc. 

Louisville ranks 8th for the highest rate of suicide compared to peer cities.

It is for this reason that the Louisville Health Advisory Board’s Behavioral Health sub-committee (LHAB) decided to take on the challenge of addressing suicide in our city.

This Behavioral Health sub-committee reviewed the suicide data in our city and at first looked at reducing the incidence of suicide in Louisville Metro, but after much discussion agreed that not even one suicide is acceptable. We decided that the Zero Suicide Initiative was the only real option for our city. This initiative does not settle for the reduction of suicide, but its elimination. This is our only target. 

In November, 2016, LHAB and the Behavioral Health sub-committee sponsored the “Bold Moves Against Suicide Summit” where community partners, clinicians, educators, social service providers, and faith-based organizations convened to raise the level of awareness for this issue. 

The goals were to:

  1. Increase the sense of responsibility in our community to eliminate suicide,
  2. Provide tools and resources to address the issue of suicide,
  3. Discuss the goal of Zero Suicide,
  4. Create a community approach to eliminate suicide.

At the close of the summit, the attendees were asked to pledge their commitment to Zero Suicide and to continue meeting to explore ways to implement it throughout the city. On June 26, 2017, about 25 organizations rose to this challenge and met to develop their 90-Day Action Plan to implement Zero Suicide in their organization.

We are in the process of meeting again in early October to discuss and encourage these organizations to continue their implementation of Zero Suicide. We invite any organization wanting to assist us in this initiative to join us. Together we can become a city where not even one suicide is acceptable.   

About the author: Wayne Crabtree serves as the Director of the Office of Addiction Services at Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. He has served there for over 26 years with some great community partners in order to increase the health and well-being in Louisville metro citizens.

Graphic Recording by Katalyst Creative Consulting.