Suicide prevention efforts grow

MONMOUTH — About 50 people from different service organizations sat around the table on Sept. 14, a group dedicated to cutting through red tape to get services to those in need as quickly as possible.

A man doesn’t have his birth certificate, and needs it to get his life back on track. He doesn’t have the $50 required to purchase a copy. Can anyone help?

In just a few minutes, the problem is solved.

It’s the Monmouth-Independence Service Integration Team, organized through Polk County Family and Community Outreach.

Teams similar to this meet monthly throughout Polk County, a melding of minds and services, annihilating the government service silo model.

At this meeting, Doug Gouge presented on the Mid-Valley Suicide Prevention Coalition, a relatively new resource to the county — less than a year old.

The coalition was formed to address suicide and depression, the eighth leading cause of death overall in Oregon, and the second leading cause of death for those aged 10 to 34.

Gouge said the increase of kids in middle school and high school considering suicide is what sparked the need for more prevention efforts.

He started with student surveys, paying close attention to three questions about depression and suicide.

“The second question is, ‘did you ever seriously consider attempting suicide,” Gouge said. “We saw a rise over the 2011-12 and 2013-14 school years.”

Eighth-graders reported a jump in answering ‘yes’ to this question: 10 percent in 2011-12, up to 17.5 percent in 2013-14, Gouge said.

When it came to the question about actually attempting suicide, that’s where the numbers got really concerning, he said.

“It was at 5 percent in 2011-12,” Gouge said. “It was 10.5 percent of 11th-graders in 2013-14. We don’t know what that means in their mind, but that was concerning.”

Efforts to increase awareness and prevention have spread through training sessions — including at Central High School, where students in the leadership class learned QPR training: question, persuade, and refer.

“We feel like we can train anyone 13 years or older in QPR,” Gouge said.

The QPR training is free and takes about an hour or two, Gouge said.

“We trained 16 facilitators in Polk County. Four school counselors in this room right now are trained as QPR to target staff and students,” he said.

Another suicide prevention training, ASIST, is more expensive and time-consuming — a two-day seminar that costs $70.

The coalition has also done community outreach, from a high-school video contest to a website and a presence on social media with the hashtag #OK2ASK.

The next QPR training is Oct. 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Henry Hill Education Support Center.

For more information on suicide and suicide prevention:

For more information about the service integration teams:

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