According to recently published data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide rates are on the increase, and more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition. For the years 2008-2014, Jefferson County ranked 11th out of 50 peer counties in terms of highest rates of suicide. This is a change from the prior ranking of 8th, however the suicide mortality rates were higher nationally. In essence, while other counties increased at a higher level, our suicide mortality rate still increased. These statistics are what inspired a cross-sector of community partners to come together and set an objective to design and implement a community-wide, evidence-based and data-driven program to eliminate suicides in Louisville.
So, what are we doing about it?
This group, called the Louisville Health Advisory Board (LHAB) Behavioral Health committee, is focusing its full energy towards the setting of a world record during National Suicide Prevention Week, September 9-15, 2018. The committee wants Louisville to have the most individuals trained in Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) in one week. Similar to CPR, QPR is an emergency response to someone in crisis and can save lives. The committee is currently investigating trainers and locations to offer the 90-minute training classes, and is especially interested in connecting with local employers, who may have interest in hosting this training at their facilities and/or for their employees. If you are interested in getting involved, please email Louisvillezerosuicide@gmail.com.
For those who like history, here is a bit of background of the LHAB committee’s work as we lead up to a record setting initiative:
In the fall of 2016, the Louisville Health Advisory Board’s (LHAB) Behavioral Health committee hosted the community’s first ever Bold Moves Against Suicide Summit – designed to bring together thought leaders and community partners to raise the level of awareness for the issue, increase the sense of responsibility in our community to reduce suicide, provide tools and resources to address the issue of suicide and discuss adopting the Zero Suicide initiative across the city. The Summit accomplished these goals, and since then we have been engaging key stakeholders in a community-wide coalition to consider how to implement Zero Suicide across a variety of organizations in Louisville.
On June 26, 2017, the LHAB’s Behavioral Health committee shared a condensed version of the Zero Suicide Academy and how one might implement at his or her organization. The group spent the afternoon with grounding on what Zero Suicide is, and resources available to implementing within an organization. The group reflected on its experiences within its respective organizations and learned about the Zero Suicide Organizational Assessment. Next, participants created a 90-day plan for implementing Zero Suicide at their organization, and wrapped the day with an interactive assessment of Louisville’s current state as it relates to suicide prevention.
Then, on November 28, 2017, 25 individuals representing 15 organizations from a cross-sector of our community spent time together recapping the Zero Suicide framework, brainstorming solutions to opportunities in our city, and learning about early successes as they have engaged in their 90-day plans. In learning from Jeff Felty, Compliance & Privacy Officer from Centerstone, the group addressed one of the biggest challenges discussed in the June session about how to effectively transition individuals across our organizations.
And most recently, on February 21, 24 individuals representing 17 organizations gathered for continued discussion about how to eliminate suicides in our city. The group heard from guest speaker Andy Lawrence, Director of Suicide Prevention for Centerstone who walked through his organization’s initiation of the Zero Suicide framework and learnings on the journey, since launching in 2011. Then, at the request of participants, a discussion was facilitated with several local media partners to learn more about their experiences covering suicides in Louisville. Then, the group discussed the concept of setting the world record for the most individuals trained in QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) in a week.
We hope you will join us in our effort September 9-15, National Suicide Prevention Week.
Please remember there are resources for you, family and friends related to suicide prevention. The national suicide prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255 and a local (Louisville) crisis line number at Centerstone (formerly Seven Counties) is 502-589-4313.