Local efforts highlight suicide prevention during National Suicide Prevention Month

Malheur County Prevention is staging at local places with these signs throughout the month of September, including this Saturday at the I-84 interchange on Idaho Avenue.

ONTARIO

Suicide is a subject that mental health service providers deal with as part of their job. Approaching those people who are dealing with suicidal ideations requires specific training and know-how. Offering support for those dealing with suicidal thoughts by holding “sign rallies” featuring signs with messages of support and hope.

The Argus reached out to Paula Olvera, Prevention Specialist at Lifeways, to find out more about this topic and how local residents are responding to efforts to bring more attention to this on-going public health crisis.

“Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States (over all ages, genders, and races) and 8th leading cause of death in Oregon. Amongst our youth-from age 10 all the way to age 34- suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the US, second only to accidental death.

In 2018- 48,344 people lost their lives to suicide, another 1.4 million attempted. And those are only the reported deaths and attempts. With those figures, imagine how many people are affected by suicide every day in our communities,” wrote Olvera in an email message received on Thursday afternoon.

She also said, for those who don’t know, September is National Suicide Prevention Month and this week is National Suicide Prevention week.

“Suicide has long been a taboo subject. We want to help end that stigma,” said Olvera.

“If we can end that stigma and dispel the myths about suicide, more people would seek help and more lives could be saved. Suicide is not prejudiced-it affects all ages, classes, religions, and cultures around the world. We need to have open honest conversations about suicide.”

Adding to this discussion was Judi Trask, Malheur County Prevention Coordinator, who offered her insights into this topic in an email message received on Thursday afternoon.

“As you are probably aware, our family members, friends, colleagues, and community members who struggle with substance use, problem gambling, and mental health disorders are at a much higher risk for suicide. The sidewalk chalk art messages have incorporated messages of hope for those at risk of suicide also. The communities of Ontario, Vale, Adrian, Jordan Valley and Nyssa are involved in the chalk art challenge,” wrote Trask.

She said that one of the scheduled sign rallies that she and the team from Malheur County Drug Free Communities Coalition are particularly excited about is happening on Sept. 15 from 10 to 11 a.m. in which messages will be shared on the overpass entering Ontario.

Trask also noted how the COVID-19 pandemic has had impact on the lives of those who are already dealing with thoughts of suicide.

“The substance use and suicide rates are increasing substantially with COVID-19. It is the mission of Malheur County Prevention and the MCDFC to help as many people in as many ways as we can. One person may see one message and that may save that person’s life or encourage them to start a recovery journey. Prevention saves lives!” wrote Trask.

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