Zero Suicide Featured at Legislative Day
On Thursday, February 11, the public health issue of suicide and how it can be prevented will take center stage at the Vermont State House, during a day of advocacy and recognition of new and ongoing suicide prevention efforts. From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. representatives of the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center, members of the Vermont Suicide Prevention Coalition, Vermont Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), and other key partners including suicide loss survivors, will be at the State House for a variety of advocacy and awareness activities. The public is invited to attend and participate. Representative Cole will be presenting a House Joint Resolution on the House floor of the legislature, recognizing the efforts in suicide prevention and emphasizing the importance of addressing the issue from many avenues – schools, healthcare, workplaces, government, communities and those suffering from mental health challenges.
An estimated 100 Vermonters die of suicide each year. The fact that an estimated 90 percent of individuals who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental illness that may have benefited from treatment underlines the need to build awareness that suicide is preventable. Statewide efforts include the Umatter Suicide Prevention Program and the commitment in 2015 of the Vermont Department of Mental Health (DMH) to the Zero Suicide model, a national effort that focuses on the foundational belief that suicide deaths for individuals under care within health and mental health systems are preventable. Under a pilot project in northwestern Vermont, DMH is working with designated mental health agencies to train counseling staff in new modalities such as the Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality model pioneered by Dr. David Jobes, one of the only treatment methods scientifically proven to reduce suicide attempts.
The rate of suicide in Vermont exceeds the national average, with the most recent calculations placing the national rate at 12.6, and Vermont’s rate at 17.2, individuals per 100,000 people. The VT Suicide Prevention Coalition brings together diverse partners who work diligently to build awareness of this crisis of suicide in Vermont, educate about suicide risk and promote prevention. Beginning at 8 a.m., an informational display of state prevention efforts will be accessible in the Statehouse Cafeteria. At 1 and 3:30 p.m. Vermont suicide prevention partners will be recognized on the floors of the Senate and House, with Balint and Cole’s co-sponsored House Joint Resolution. A brief panel presentation will take place beginning at 12 p.m. in the Ethan Allen Room at the Vermont Statehouse. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, or if you are concerned for a friend or family member, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 1-800-273-8255. For more information, call Nicole Miller at 802-254-6590.